For Oct. 2, 2016 Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4, Psalm 37, 2 Tim 1:1-14, Luke 17:5-10
This week I can't help but read these passages in light of the situation of Syrian Refugees.
Saturday, I spent the day with the family our church is sponsoring. They arrived in Canada 2 weeks ago, only speak Arabic, and there are 4 children under 10 years old. They waited 3 years in a refugee camp before finally coming to Canada. They are happy here, but it's going to be a long and difficult road to learn the language, find jobs, and start all over in this strange to them country.
We spent a fun afternoon at a community garden/farm, digging vegetables, playing with kittens, riding a horse, and eating together. In the evening, we had an interpreter and we could visit a bit over a cup of tea at the families new apartment. The father sent photos to his brother in Lebanon. The brother sent a message back, thanking us (not just me and Tim, our whole church community), for taking care of his brother's family. There are still so many people waiting in the refugee camps. Waiting to escape the violence and poverty. Waiting for a chance at peace. Waiting for help for their children.
Habakkuk says; "O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you "Violence!" and you will not save?" 1:1. In chapter 2:2 the Lord answers: "Write the vision...if it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay." In Habakkuk, "help" is being sent in the form of the Chaldeans, the enemy. It is beyond understanding. But somehow, there is trust in God in the midst of the trouble. The problems are listed...then the writer says; "yet I will rejoice in the Lord..." 3:18
Habakkuk is a hard message. Obviously the waiting is interminable, and then there is this assurance that help will not delay. Perhaps God has a different timeline, but this is crazy hard to understand when the waiting never ends. I don't get how help comes with the enemy, when that enemy comes and creates more homelessness, more death. Our Syrian family has come here, but their extended families and friends and country is in the throes of violence and waiting. I can't understand the scope of the issues. I have trouble seeing where God is in all of this mess.
I can, however, rejoice in the bit of good that I see. The excitement of the children when they played in safety on the farm, the gratefulness of the parents and their family in Lebanon, and the gift of hearing a bit of this one family's story were all reasons to rejoice.
I don't understand the waiting or God's plans, but I do want to live in hope.
Psalm 37 highlights the theme of waiting and gives some practical advice.
"Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security."
It was amazing to speak with the family and share the incredible thought that their children have a chance to grow up in a peaceful country. That they will not have to lose their homes and run from violence. That they will have education and opportunities. And that we will all be richer because of our friendship.
On Sunday, we will have speakers here who have worked for many years in the Middle East, working for the Mennonite Central Committee. It will be good to hear where they see hope.