Thoughts on the Refugee Crisis: Mourn. Act. Pray.

I am by no means the most learned or the wisest. You could find a better-written article with more research, I’m certain.

But I do know this: I cannot say nothing.

Here’s what else I know: Yahweh God has ALWAYS fought for the displaced. He has always taken care of the sojourner and commanded His people to do likewise.

More than the dreamiest sunset or the most breathtaking mountain range, Yahweh put His image in humans. We are the image bearers. Muslim refugees are the image bearers. Let us not forget that.

So what we can do?

Mourn.

It has to start here. Jesus calls us to mourn & be comforted (Matthew 5:4). Paul exhorts us to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). There are scores of people weeping tonight. Let us weep with them.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

I will weep with the refugees. I will weep for the Christians whose view of Yahweh has become so distorted. I will mourn that the shadows of humanity’s brokenness are nearly overcoming in these days.

Act.

We CAN do something. No- we MUST do something.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

Write to your representative. Use your voice to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.

Pray.

Pray. Pray. Pray.

It seems like so little, but our best fight and loudest voice is at the Mercy Seat.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the through of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

In case you’ve forgotten, Jesus was a Middle Eastern refugee. He gets it. Pray that He might be near to the refugees right now.

Prayers for the Muslim refugee:

  • Pray that God might intervene on their behalf.
  • Pray that they might not associate the wicked decisions of our President with the merciful heart of Yahweh God.
  • Pray that they might meet Jesus. It is often heard from Muslim converts that they met Isa (the Arabic name corresponding to Jesus) in dreams leading to their conversion. Pray desperately that Muslims might meet Jesus in dreams and come to know His heart and character.

Prayers for the American Christian:

  • Pray fervently that life on this earth will never be our highest aim. May His Kingdom be our greatest prize and His glory our highest desire.
  • Pray that our highest allegiance is to the King, not a nation.

Prayers for our President:

  • Pray that Yahweh God might radically capture the heart of Donald Trump.
  • Pray that President Trump would be sensitive to the voices raised against the Refugee Ban in the coming days.
  • Pray for the people on the various councils that will have a voice in this matter.
  • Pray that the decision is revoked.

I am sick to my stomach and weepy at the reality of our world right now. I am longing for Christ’s return. But until then, we can mourn. We can act. We can pray.

Join me?






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Get Your Hopes Up.

“But I’m trying not to get my hopes up.”

It’s a tag line I hear often, assuming one is brave enough to say the wild, crazy thing that maybe, might just happen. It’s a caveat I insert myself, just to level the ground of expectation and potential reality.

Because let’s be honest, worst-case scenario is not not getting what we hope for. We deal with that all the time. Worst-case scenario is people knowing it. People knowing that we wanted something badly, and it didn’t work out.

And so we lie.

We say we aren’t excited about the job. We say we aren’t trying for the baby. We say we aren’t interested in the boy. We say we don’t care what school we get accepted to or what scholarships we are offered. We dilute our desires and muddle down our longings.


I was curling my hair early on a Sunday morning not long ago, my mind wandering to dreams for upcoming adventures and ministry potential. I was letting myself get carried away before quickly chiding myself “not to get my hopes up.”

And ya know, it’s not too often that I hear the voice of God so undeniably. But with half my head still looking much like a lioness, as I slowly curled it piece by piece into something presentable, it came so clearly:

“I want you to get your hopes up, Gwen. It’s one of my favorite things. Have you forgotten? I am the God of Hope.”

The God of Hope.

The God who loves it when our dreams seems unattainable. The God who delights when we desire things that haven’t come to pass. The God who let’s us wait and anticipate because it draws us closer and closer to Him in the process.

There is a cavern of God’s character that you will simply not experience if you refuse to hope. You could stifle deep desires and still see them fulfilled. But you will miss tender, dear moments with the God who loves it when you hope.

Here’s the thing about hope: it stops being hope the moment it becomes tangible.

“Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:24-25

The moment you’re offered the job. The moment the girl says, “Yes.” The moment the word “pregnant” appears as you sit anxiously on the bathroom floor.

And this is what I’m learning: The more honest we are about what exactly we’re hoping for, the more glory our sweet King Jesus will get. The more honest you are about what you hope to see happen the more your tribe can enter into it with you. Whether in mourning or in celebration.

Mourning. It sucks. And it’s hard. It’s painful. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” (Proverbs 13:12) But I am convinced that mourning alone for the thing you refused to acknowledge as a genuine desire is exponentially more painful than mourning with your people for the thing you boldly hoped for.

And I’m just as sure that celebrating alone for the thing you were afraid to want is just a fraction of the fun it is when your home team knows what you’ve been hoping for and shows up with champagne and party hats when that thing comes to pass.

Hope is scary. It’s a world of unknowns. It is pages of “maybes” and “if onlys.” And it’s terrifying. But I’m convinced that it leads us to experience the heart of God in an immeasurably precious way.

It is worth the risk. It’s worth the wait. Cause you just can’t out hope the God of Hope. You can’t out dream Him. You can’t out imagine Him.

So, “May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

Get your hopes up because it’s the genuine desire of your heart.

Get your hopes up because it honors God.

Get your hopes up knowing some of them will never come to pass.

Just get your hopes up.






 

All Things New.

You know the feeling you get when someone mentions the name of a person who has wronged you? Or talks about a place that represents a season of pain and brokenness?

Maybe it’s an ex. Or a former business partner who cheated you bad. Maybe it’s an old friend, a boss, a church, or a professor.

Your heart starts beating kind of quickly. Your palms get a little sweaty. That strange pit comes into your stomach and you feel nauseous and anxious and angry all at once. Memories are weird, aren’t they?

As I read and heard the Christmas story this year I couldn’t help but wonder if that’s what Joseph and Mary felt when the angel appeared to them and told them to go to Egypt.

“Now when they had departed, behold, and angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, and destroy him.’ And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod.” Matthew 2:13-15

Egypt. The nation who oppressed the people of God for hundreds of years. Four centuries of ruthless taskmasters and unfair enslavement. Four hundred years of pain and hurt and brokenness.

Mary and Joseph had already been required to trust the Lord a lot. Mary who bravely trusted. Joseph who “resolved to divorce her quietly” until being met by an angel. They who were visited by mysterious messengers of God, bearing little instruction and a weighty promise. Who chose to obey knowing that they would be misunderstood and ostracized. Who travelled to Judea for a census and were denied a proper room. Who gave birth in a beaten down shed and put their brand new baby in an animal’s feeding trough. Who were now asked to go to Egypt.

I wonder if they felt betrayed by God. Scripture doesn’t give us any reason to believe they were visited by angels between the announcement of Mary’s pregnancy and the arrival of the shepherds and wise men. What did they think as they waited? Did they question God’s goodness? Did they regret being chosen for the task? Did they wonder, “When will it end?”

And then Jesus is born on a trip away from home and they are warned in a dream not to go back. Instead, “Go to Egypt.” Rephrase: Go find safety in the nation who deeply oppressed and brutally abused your ancestors. Find refuge in a place of past horror.

Think about that for a moment. They had travelled with nothing more than what fit on the back on their donkey and now they’re asked to go far from home, in the complete opposite direction.

I just can’t stop thinking, “Could that possibly be any worse?”

But the more I wonder and the more I press into the character of a God who fights for what makes us holy above what makes us happy, I think rather, “Could that be any more like Jesus?”

“And He who was seated on the throne said,‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” Revelation 21:5

In fact, the very first thing Jesus did on Earth was to be the agent that God used to lead his family back to Egypt where they would find protection instead of abuse. What a stunning picture of grace.

All things new. All things new.

So often He asks us to look back on the things we’ve said “See ya, never” to. He asks us to reflect and to remember. He asks us to grieve and mourn.

He asks us to hope and He offers us healing.

2016 may have knocked you down hard. It may be full of people and places you never want to see again. I get it; I’ve got a list of my own.

As you take your first steps into 2017, might you ask the Lord to help you find the Egypts lingering in your heart? Is there a person, or a place, or a memory you refuse to revisit? Are you clinging tightly to bitterness and hurt? Are you willing to look back and consider that Jesus wants to make all things new… not just the easy things. Not just the comfortable or convenient.

Though we serve a God who beckons us to come as we are, it is the kindest intention of His heart to want to make you new. Don’t let a day more of this new year pass before you’re willing to step into the mess and ask Jesus to bring wholeness and healing.

So what’s the thing? Where’s the place? Who’s the person?

All things new, Beloved. All things.