I have a confession. I find myself weary of seeing all these images of crying children and parents, and reading so much on what is happening to the refugees and asylum seeking families on our borders. I remember that I felt this way about Syria. But then I remember the faces and they turn my weary sympathy into wanting-empathy.
I am reminded of how privileged I am to sit on my couch and look at my screen and say, “I think I will just ignore it today. Enough already! I can’t take anymore.” It is then that I am forced to imagine what it is like for them. They can’t ignore what they are living. Everyday day that dawns I imagine they say, “Enough already! I can’t take anymore.” Yet they must. They don’t have a choice.
But I do. I can choose to look away because it is too hard to remember. I can choose to look away so my life won’t continue to be disrupted by their suffering. I can even choose willful blindness and explain the situation away as too complicated, and just get on with my life. Or I can choose to look. I can choose, as far removed as I am from them and as unimaginable as their situation is to me, to stay with them. I feel like I have to keep their faces before me just like their faces are kept before my God. If I don’t, my empathy may turn to sympathy and my sadness to cynicism. Besides, if it were happening to me I don’t think I would want you to forget.
I just don’t think I can let that happen because I have made a much deeper confession, that even in a world filled with suffering and sorrow Jesus is still Lord and at work in the world. And I have come to believe that being a Christian isn’t about having good ideas, but about having open eyes to see the image of God in others. From there the weight that burdens my heart can bring me to my knees in lament and prayer. By God’s grace and strength, maybe then I will find a way to put my hands and feet to my prayers alongside others who are doing the same.