The world is in chaos. Those of us in the west, especially the states are ignorant of the chaotic effects of wars and fighting that is happening abroad.
No one wants to become a refugee, but there is a moment when a person acknowledges that their best hope of survival, or escape from prison and torture depends on them leaving home in search of a safer place. More recently refugees are likely to be from Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Iraq. Right now according to the UNHCR there are approximately 11 million people around the world who have fled their countries, and around 4o million people who either have no state to call home, are displaced in their own country, or have fled outside of their country due to violence and threats of physical harm.
Besides this you have millions upon millions of families, men, women who have left their home countries in search of a better means of living.These two groups are different, but they both share a common understanding; the best hope for a better life is to leave their country.
There are many scriptures that speak about being immigrants, and even refugees but the two I want to highlight are these:
Psalms 84:5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage
14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:14-16)
Every believer in Christ must acknowledge that they are in a foreign land. There’s an old expression that says this world is not my home, we are just passing through. I love the Psalms 84 verse because it talks about a mindset that we all must have. Our hearts are set on a pilgrimage. We have left everything behind in the hopes of meeting something better. We have our hearts on seeing God, but not just seeing God but on living with God.
What empowers us on this journey is what the Psalmist says in verse five. Blessed are those whose strength is in you. We must hold on to our trust and hope in God. When we understand that God is with us, it empowers us to face the uncertainty, the pain of leaving loved ones and possessions behind, the fatigue, the tired muscles, and tearful and sleepless nights. Draw your strength from God. When you feel you are at your breaking point, realize that God is with you. Peter tells us to cast our burdens on the Lord because he cares for us. God cares for you. You may not know where you are going, but God does. He may not show you everything, but hold on to him, let him take you and carry you step by step.
The other idea that this verse communicates is that this life is a journey. We should be prepared to move. The early Patriarchs understood this, because they were nomadic people. Even if they settled down, they had an understanding that they would not be there forever. They were constantly pitching their tents.
Our bodies are our tents, and for many they are wearing down fast. They often are torn, they suffer wear to where they begin breaking down, lose their luster, and get harder and harder to pitch. These bodies are just temporary, so we too should prepare one day to lose them in hopes of better ones.
For those of us in relatively affluent countries we should realize that there are practical elements for us too. Sometimes you lose your job, some family, friends, and even health. This is all part of the journey. We can’t hold on to these things, because their temporal. They don’t last. Yet we know that God has something better prepared for us.
In the event of loss, we should believe that God will provide comfort and blessing in this life, but know with certainty that he has something better for us in the life to come. What I’m saying is that God is a good God, and he often times heals when we are sick, gives us other jobs when we lose them, other homes when our old one’s leave, and a new family when some of our family members pass. There are times when we lose things that God immediately gives us something better or just as good than what we had before. Other times when we leave things behind, the new place isn’t always as good as the old. Sometimes you have to start at the bottom again, and work your way up. It’s not guaranteed that you will surpass your old condition in this life, but we don’t live for today. We live for tomorrow, for our kids and the next generation. Remember the second temple did not possess the same external glory as the first, but God does promise something better in the life to come.
For believers in your home countries
- Pray for our brothers and sisters who are forced to leave. They are in Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Egypt, all over.
- Don’t fear the immigrant, share Jesus with them. Often some of these immigrants are muslim. If you are in a western country share the Love of Christ with them, and the hope that they can know that they can go to Heaven if they trust and believe in Christ.
- Extend hospitality. Invite someone to dinner. Share a meal with them. Share your life.
- Teach them your countries language.
- Volunteer at your local camp.
- Give money to reputable agencies who are providing assistance
To all of you who have left your homes, remember for those in Christ God is preparing you a better home. My prayers are for you, take comfort in God and may he send his angels to comfort you.