As I type this, it is the middle of the night and I find myself on the couch under the glow of my Christmas tree lights.
I can’t sleep.
All I can think about are my two boys sleeping comfortably on their pillow pads next to my bed as a special treat.
I was reading a report about refugees a few weeks ago. There were so many heartbreaking numbers, reports, and pictures. But the observation that left me sobbing in a ball on the floor of my bedroom was that many of the refugee children would not use pillows to sleep.
Finding themselves sleeping on the ground in the forest or the cement warehouse floor or the dirt in a tent, many children would refuse a pillow.
It finally became clear that these children associated their pillows with the terror they have experienced – violence at night. If they didn’t use a pillow, maybe they would be safe. Maybe they wouldn’t remember the horrors they’ve endured. Maybe, just maybe, their dreams would be pleasant tonight.
What a thing. I can’t even wrap my head around the deep ache my mom soul feels for those sweet children. That I feel for the moms watching their children be afraid of their pillows.
These Spartan mothers made the gut-wrenching decision to take their children from their home, knowing that the danger they face ahead is nothing compared to the danger that they face if they stay. I can’t imagine.
I’ve refrained from talking about this subject because I honestly don’t even know where to begin. I have no desire to make this a political discussion.
For quite a while, I have had a post half-written that talks about how Jesus and his family were refugees. The words haven’t been flowing as freely as I’d like, so I’ve just kind of let it simmer.
But at church on Sunday, the pastor said it, too. Jesus and his family were refugees. They were running from oppression and violence. They were strangers in a foreign land, with nothing but what they could carry – relying on the kindness and compassion of those around them to survive.
And I felt God whisper, “Your turn.”
So here are my two cents.
I don’t know how to solve a refugee crisis. It’s above my pay grade for sure. I don’t know how to vet a refugee, and I don’t think we can guarantee that people who mean harm to others are not blending into those who do not. I can’t argue and debate these things with you because, honestly, I have no expertise in any of it.
What I do know is that Jesus wants us to love and welcome and care for the least – orphans, widows, the poor, the terror-stricken seeking shelter.
I’m not writing this post to suggest 5 easy steps to end the refugee crisis. Far from it. I’m not even going to give you the links to any organizations to donate. There are many, and if you feel like you’re supposed to, I hope you find one and donate. I’m woefully inadequate in these ways.
All I’m asking you to do today is to pray with me.
Take the next couple moments, wherever you may be, and pray. Prayer is the single most powerful tool in my arsenal at this moment, and I suspect that’s the case for you, too.
Pray for those sweet babies, cold and sleeping on the floor, afraid of their pillows.
Pray for their mothers – the ones comforting them and holding them through their nightmares.
Pray for the first responders to this crisis in countries like Spain, Italy, Greece, and Bulgaria. They need resources, stamina, and emotional support as they meet these refugees right where they are, and right in the middle of their most basic need – survival.
Pray for the wisdom of the leaders of all of the nations being overwhelmed by the influx of refugees. They have a huge task ahead of them in providing for the needs of so many people.
Pray for the discernment of the leaders of our nation and others who are being asked to welcome refugees in order to alleviate the pressure being placed on many European countries.
Pray we won’t get caught up in the politics of all of this and forget that these are real people. There is a small faction of dangerous people seeking to use these innocent people as cover to do some terrible things – I hear the argument already – but I pray we don’t forget the millions of people who actually mean no one any harm and only want to give their children lives where they aren’t afraid of their pillow.
Pray for our own hearts. Pray that we won’t forget that the God we serve placed His Son in a family that was to spend many years being refugees. Pray that we will be filled with holy compassion for these people fleeing for their lives. Pray that we will have the courage to treat these people – the least of these – with love and tenderness and kindness. For as we do to them, we do to Jesus.
At this moment, when I close my eyes, I can only see my kids sleeping peacefully on no less than 5 pillows each, in the warmth and safety of our own home.
Tonight, thousands upon thousands of moms are not so lucky. Once upon a time, Mary was not so lucky.
Will you pray for them with me?