Going deeply into the heart of God is an impossible journey. How does he deal with all the ache and pain and horrible nature of the world? How does he deal with all the suffering of people? Of children? This week past week, I did several interviews with Syrian refugee families at the different sites that Food for the Hungry’s implementing partner LSESD provides food assistance in Lebanon. My heart was broken.
I met a little boy named Tarek.
This little Syrian refugee boy and his family had just arrived in Lebanon one month ago. They fled Syria after a bomb landed on their home. Tarek got third-degree burns. The girl sitting next to him died. The burns on Tarek’s face healed into huge scars. His mother said that similar scars covered his body. It didn’t hit me at first.
Tarek and his family live in this shipping container with no heating, water or electricity.
I went on with the interview and kept smiling and trying to get a smile out of him, but he didn’t budge. Most kids love me and would always smile. Maybe he didn’t because he’s shy. Maybe he’s scared. Worse, maybe he’s injured from the bomb or the trauma from what he had witnessed.
As Tarek’s family sought to make a life after fleeing Syria a local Lebanese church was able to give them food vouchers, milk and diapers (two programs I am proud to say LSESD is helping to support). I learned from Tarek’s mother that they live in a shipping container with no heating, no water and no electricity. They might get kicked out because another Syrian refugee family is coming soon.
This is just a teeny tiny tip of the iceberg.
This is just one Syrian refugee family in Lebanon. There are over 1.5 million. This doesn’t include the 6.5 million Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) in Syria, or the 600,000+ refugees in Jordan, or the 2.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey. Or those who have fled to Europe, or have received asylum in a western country through a refugee resettlement program. Over 13.5 million people have been affected and displaced by the Syrian Civil War over the past six years. We just got to Lebanon to serve in this context, but God has been here.
The suffering in the world is so great it overwhelms me.
The Syrian refugee crisis is just one of many.
It makes me think at times that most of the world is suffering. To know God’s heart in this way is to feel the weight of the pain of the world. It breaks me and makes me weep. Is my Christianity that weak and worthless that it allows for all of this pain in the world? I don’t have the full answer to this question. I am sorry if you were waiting for my answer.
But after weeping over Tarek and the many others like him, I ponder, what if God is crying too? What if he is weeping and saying, “Look at what the world has done?” Maybe he is saying, “Yes, my church. You can’t stop it all, but you can help some. You can change one person’s life. You can help Tarek to feel loved and cared for today. You can be the hands and feet of Christ, stand up for the vulnerable and give them a voice.”
None of us are heroes or particularly special. We are just the hands and feet of a creator who made us in the image of God. That image causes us to want to love and care for others. Deep in us, He put the desire to be a part of His heart, to hurt like He hurts, to love in the way that He loves.
It doesn’t have to be Syrian refugees.
It doesn’t have to be a poor person. It can be any person. Reach out and love somebody in the name of Christ. To do so is to stop some of the suffering in this world. To do so is to be the heart and love of God to that person. And there is nothing more sacred and spiritual and perfect than to do that.
In partnership with the Integral Alliance and the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD) in Lebanon, Food for the Hungry helps provide food, shelter, hygiene kits, educational assistance, child-friendly spaces, psychosocial support and more. To learn more and to help with this life-saving work go to www.fh.org/syria.