I’ve been putting up a lot of pictures on Facebook of fun things. Visiting archeological sites, hiking a wadi, cuddling cute babies, but the reality is that things are not all happy-go-lucky here. How could they be, so close to a war zone?!
Oftentimes I hear bombs going off in Syria since we’re so close to the border. After hearing several of the refugees' stories, it’s easy to imagine what’s going on a few mere miles away. What’s not so easy is the knowledge that I don’t always care. Sometimes the realization of what is happening hits me and I’m on my knees praying for them, but other times I’m enjoying a meal with friends or reading a good book or doing laundry. How strange to go about everyday tasks when there is a war so close, yet how normal it has become!
Some friends and I went to visit a refugee family last week. Of the three moms in this home, only one had her husband there. One’s husband is fighting in Syria and she hasn’t heard from him in a long time. The other’s was wounded by a gunshot to the kidney and he is awaiting an operation in Lebanon. Not only is she taking care of her three kids aged 4, 3, and 1 without him, but she is due to have their fourth baby any day now. Can you imagine not only knowing that your husband will miss the birth of your child, but also not being able to be with him when he is in critical condition?! These are the types of stories people share with me.
-Refugee area of town-
A common burden of the refugees in the city is the not knowing. Not knowing if their friends and family made it out. Not knowing if they are alive. My patients here at the hospital have all the “normal” stressors plus the stress of being chronically ill. Most have drug-resistant tuberculosis. The treatment is harsh. Many get painful injections every day, and all take scores of pills that cause nausea, lack of appetite, fatigue, and more. Please pray for these dear ones.
There are distractions from the monotony of chronic care – dance parties, surprise desserts, Eid celebrations, entertaining conversations – that help, indeed. But the truth will help the most. The truth of the grace of Jesus. The truth that though this life is hard, it is not the end, and though they may feel very alone, they need never be. It may be difficult to believe, but when one places their faith in Jesus, it is possible to be content in every situation. Being a Christian does not mean a life of ease, but it does assure that Christ will never leave us.
“For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ “ Hebrews 13:5-6
What an amazing comfort from the most terrible of situations to the most “normal” of days.
One thing shocked me while visiting this last refugee family. Traveling to third world countries, working in a crazy (yet wonderful) emergency room in America and having other random life experiences, I must admit that not much shocks me these days. It even took 27 years before someone was able to throw me a surprise party - and not for lack of trying! But in this home one thing did.
Y’all have probably heard that the Middle East is very conservative in dress. This is a true statement. When I leave my compound I am generally covered collarbones to wrists to ankles and often am sporting a head covering, as well. Men and women do not normally mix company...but we did on this day. Amazingly, the three women and one’s husband, nearly a dozen kids, and my friends (two men and one woman) visited together in one room. Not only that, but we all talked together. I was impressed at this very fact, but not shocked UNTIL I looked over at one of the women and saw her pull out her breast to feed her baby. Now, I lived in a country for years where it was okay for people to go around topless and am not surprised to see people breastfeed in many places in this world, but this is the MIDDLE EAST, for cryin’ out loud! It’s the middle of summer and I’m having to be careful to shield my ankles from the sight and cover my head - and out pops her breast with several MEN around!? What in the world!
Like everyone else in the room I pretended nothing happened, but inside I was making a very shocked face. I guess I don’t have this culture all figured out after all. ;)
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13.