Photographed by: Magnus Wennman
The crisis in Syria has raged on for the last four years with very little media coverage in the Western world. And then, early this summer, the tiny, lifeless little body of two-year old Aylan Kurdi washed ashore, breaking our hardened hearts and opening our closed eyes.
Around the same time, my eleven year old daughter was memorizing these words, the inscription on the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
I posted a link to the article, but had no words to go with it. I thought to myself, "Lord Jesus, come quickly" but instead typed, "Lord, open the eyes of our hearts..."
But to what?
I didn't know. To mercy? To pray? To see the magnitude of the blessing we have in our warm beds and full refrigerators?
I've spent the last few days trying to choose a paint color for the living room walls in our new home, as evidenced by a dozen or so swatches on the various walls. I tried, in vain, to reconcile the reality of my comfortable suburban life with the world we live in.
Some days, I have a harder time reconciling my faith.
Weak and weary, I realize a few drops of water here and there is not enough to quench a parched soul.
I need the a cleansing flood of His word to wash over me.
And so, I found my way back to the kitchen table early yesterday morning. It is the place where - years ago - I would sit and meet with the Lord. It was the place where His word first came alive to me; the place where I first began to know Him.
Admittedly, it's been a long time since I'd been there. Over the years, in the busyness of life and the advent of the iPad and iPhone, my time with the Lord has been more sporadic and less systematic. I find myself reading His word on a device as I lay in bed early in the morning or late at night. Verses scattered here and there in my devotionals and the One Year Bible and my weekly small group bible studies.
I sat to read - to really read - His word. You know, in my actual bible, thick and heavy in my hands. My current study has me turn to ... of course... Ephesians, Chapter 1:
"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation..."
Yes, Paul, but for what?
"So that you may know Him Better" (v. 17)
And then he writes the same thing I had typed earlier as I shared the article on my Facebook page:
"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened..." (v. 18).
Yes, Paul, but TO what?
"... to the hope of His calling;
and the riches of His glorious inheritance;
and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but in the one to come" (v. 18-21).And just like that, I'm reminded that there is more to this life than this life. That the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us. That His name is above every name. Every rule and every authority. Every power and every dominion.
Not only in this life, but in the life that is to come.
Sometimes we just need to be reminded that there is a life to come which, by comparison, according to His word will make this life's troubles and tragedies seem "light and momentary": "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Corinthians 4:17).
In this moment, in light of the news, the troubles of our day seem anything other than light. But they are momentary.
And in the wake of more tragic news, I tell my children what the Lord has whispered to me through His word and through His spirit: "In this world, you WILL have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world." - John 16:33
Trouble seems too light a word, until you look at the Greek translation which describes an intense internal pressure, an anguish and affliction that causes one to feel utterly helpless.
In other words, what we feel when we turn on the news. When we bear witness to unspeakable tragedy.
His word tells us that in the last days, evil will increase and we can expect that worse is yet to come.
And so, I tell my children this: "We don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever" (2 Corinthians 4:18). We must fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
And we must allow Him to open the eyes of our hearts... to what? To Him, to know Him, to know the truth of His word, to take hold of the promise of the life that is to come, and to take hold of His peace - the only peace that will keep us upright in a world gone mad.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."