The plight of a refugee is hard to explain and hard to comprehend. The life of a refugee can be divided fairly easily into many chapters.
The first chapter is life in her home country, including birth, childhood, adulthood. The characters include direct and extended family members. Later chapters are set in host countries in which she has no sense of being at home in the world.
Most refugees are unemployed. Some have husbands and children. All have moments of recall. Idleness causes us to think of our past. Much in our past is good. Much in our past is not good. Much that we want to erase remains with us, no matter how hard we try to erase them.
My parents always showed they love me. I never lacked food or money. My parents always tried to do right things and to avoid wrong things. They strived to be morally upright.
But it was not so with others who are a part of my history. These people lacked moral integrity, disrespected others, spoke false words. One of them tried to destroy the innocence of a small child, to satisfy his own desires. He didn’t care about the girl.
But he didn’t succeed. He didn’t succeed because there was one who protected and saved her and then consoled her, in her confusion and dismay. He enabled her to love herself, to value herself. He gave her a comfort she didn’t get from anyone else.
I’ve sensed that he’s available to everyone, but it’s a mystery: some don’t recognize him. Yes, I’m speaking of our Lord. He’s the one from whom we need not hide our feelings of anger, disappointment, shame. His love is so amazing, so out of this world.
He welcomes us to speak with Him. We can begin to speak with him by telling him how much we love Him. As we speak, we will feel warm in our hearts, we will have a sense of acceptance with Him. And as we continue that practice, we will speak in the same way to those we know physically.
Love unexpressed is not love. It is just imagination. Unfortunately, in many cultures, especially the cultures in the home countries of many refugees, people are taught and believe that only the weak express love.
They are wrong. The truth is this: love, trust, reassurance, and hope are just as important as food for us to flourish in our lives.
I am more and more convinced about that as I pray, read God’s word and speak with Him every day. He is the source of trust, reassurance and love. He flows into my being and He is very happy when I allow Him to flow from me to others.
I now know He is the one who comforted me, who held my hand, in my hour of desperate need, in the years of my childhood. He is the one who responded to my pain. He is the one who never left my side.
Now that I know His name, and practice being present with Him, I realize that what I did as “worship” before was just repetitive words and activity.
The words in this Psalm are so true of my experience:
The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
I think back about my parents, my family, my childhood, my worship in that early chapter of my life. I think about the change in my life when I began to enter His presence, as a helpless refugee. I think about my own children today, and I am grateful. I fall down and worship.
He has given me a word of counsel for parents: Speak words of love and encouragement to your children. Listen to them. Show them they can trust you. Give them more than physical food. Treat their emotions and feelings as real and worthy of care.
Take them to Him. Teach them to be at Home in the Lord.