I don’t know about you but I take a great deal of comfort from the fact that God’s truth, love and grace, never alter. As we heard from Andy on Sunday, thankfully, “truth is not weather dependent” and as we know, this is an incredibly infallible attribute of our Father God. Whatever the deal or the circumstances we are in, God’s truth stays the same. So much change happens around us that we can take refuge in the fact that this area of our lives can be a rare constant... if we’re prepared to see it that way. Oftentimes we don’t respond to God in this way because in order for us to understand Him, we tend to try and humanise Him but it really is true – amazing!
So, if we did find ourselves in a situation that really made us question everything we know to be true, would we be able to hold on to this truth like Daniel did? This has really stuck with me over the last few days... how would I feel if I was captured and moved forcefully to another part of the world, forced to learn a different language and be part of a different culture? Would I remain loyal to God if I was in this situation or would I think God had forgotten all about me?
I can’t imagine the terror of a refugee’s plight; the images we’ve seen in recent times, especially those of children separated from their parents, are chilling. In the school I work in, we have a small community of Afghan boys, most of whom were sent away by their families in search a better life. They are now fostered by some truly amazing families in the locality, have a comfortable life and more importantly, are safe but what must those darkest moments of that unknown journey have been like? Or what of the mother who sent her son away because the atrocities he faced where he was were no kind of future at all? And I wonder, as we all surely must do, how would I fare under such circumstances?
What strikes my colleagues and I about these young men, is their positive perspective. They have so much to mourn and yet they look to the future with great hope and gratitude. They are often shining examples to some of our local boys whose attitude to their education could do with a face lift to say the least! Perhaps it is because they have faced their darkest hour and they have survived that they see life with a new perspective. I looked for more examples of this because, as I say, it’s really been on my mind. I found Jana and her son Ahmed’s story amongst hundreds of inspiring scenarios:
“I was a teacher of Arabic in Aleppo. The war was awful. We could hear bombs, but never saw them. Then our house was hit and destroyed. Luckily we were out. It was a shock. You have a house, with decorations, your things, and then you have nothing. We had to leave. Everything in the street was destroyed. It was not safe for Ahmed. I am a Sunni, and Ahmed, because of his father, is a Shia. There was a time when it didn’t matter. Shia married to Sunni, Sunni married to Christian. But now people came to the house trying to take Ahmed away.
We left at night. It took three days, walking most of the way, hiding at night, walking again. There was nothing left for us. My mother is still there. It is not safe. But she is 70. Where could she go? We were in Lebanon for two years. I made sure Ahmed went to school and he started learning English. Then we learnt we would come to the UK. It was a big surprise. It is a good feeling being in the UK, but it is hard. I am alone with the baby, alone taking care of Ahmed. The first day after the baby was born, I went to my English class, with the baby! I want to teach again, with refugees or in a school. But now with the baby it will take some years.”
“War is bad. It’s when they throw bombs out of planes. Sometimes I heard bombs. But I don’t remember. I only think of good things. I have a box in my head and put all the bad things in there and keep it locked. At the start in the UK it was hard because we knew no one. I was shy at first, but I have many best friends here now. I like school. I am in Year 5. If you ask my teacher she will say I never shout out, mess about and I do my work properly. I like art best, with felt tip pens. Sometimes maths. I want to be a teacher. I want to be a teacher of everything!”
I guess what strikes me is that despite the unimaginable horrors they have left behind, there is a hope in their story – perhaps sometimes so much more than we have for the privileges we enjoy. How much more then should we be like Daniel and be absolutely 100% certain that even when we face challenges and hardship that strongly test us, God is journeying with us and encourages us to remain in Him (John 15). We know this makes sense. By doing so God has the opportunity to share His wisdom and perspective with us if we would but ask Him to, and by remaining, we can continue to grow and bear fruit for our betterment because He loves us, but ultimately, for His glory.