Thoughts on the Syrian refugee crisis from Alyssa Robinson:
"The bravest are the brokenhearted."
In the dark moments when I wrestle with the failings of this world, my dad says those words to me. The words belong to Brené Brown from her poem Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted.
I am brokenhearted, but I don't feel brave. I'm frightened.
I'm scared that no matter how much good I do in this world, it will never overcome the evil. I'm fearful that love will be overshadowed by hate. Even as I write these words, I can't help but well up from hopelessness. What do I do? Oh God, what do I do?
I wonder what Jesus would do. "What would Jesus do" sounds so cliché, but I wish I could just sit down with him in my living room with a cup of coffee and ask.
Jesus, I see the violence, the hate and the fear of millions of people every time I turn on the TV. Every time I look down at my phone I see a new post about fear, exclusion or terror in my newsfeed. "What do we do now" seems to be the topic of every conversation I've had this week. How would you respond to this?
I might not be able to have a cup of coffee with Jesus, but I often think about what it means to imitate Christ today. Paul paints a pretty clear picture in Philippians 2: 1-5.
"Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, complete my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agreeing with each other. Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus."
What I find interesting in this passage is the word "any." It doesn't say that we can solve all problems for all people. But it does say if there is ANY encouragement in Christ, ANY comfort in love, ANY sharing in the Spirit, ANY sympathy – it is worth having. If there is ANY love in this world, it is worth pursuing.
This week with the terror in Paris, there is an all-encompassing fear that makes it hard to breathe. In the midst of fear, we are called to be agents of love. Accepting Syrian refugees into our country has been put on hold. There is talk of refusing safe-haven for refugees out of fear of attack and, to be honest, the argument is understandable. The debates about our own safety and protection are valid.
It's true that whenever we open our hearts, we are opening ourselves up for attack: sometimes emotional, sometimes physical. This is where bravery comes into play. Love is hard. Radical love is even harder.
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18
Let's wrestle with the issues together and listen to each other. Let's work together to be fearless and pursue love. In Philippians, Paul says that we adopt the attitude of Christ by putting the good of others before our own. We must think of others as better than ourselves.
Like I said at the beginning, I don't feel brave. I'm frightened. But as scary as it is, I don't think having an attitude of Christ means we choose who gets to receive our love and compassion based on our own safety. Jesus ventured out into the terrifying places and welcomed the least, the last and the lost into his presence with love and acceptance. I believe with everything I have that Jesus would welcome the Syrian refugees with open arms.
In Brené Brown’s manifesto she says,
"There is no greater threat to the critics
and cynics and fearmongers
Than those of us who are willing to fall
Because we have learned how to rise."
May we rise bravely in Christ and use love to drive out fear as we face the failings of this world. Be brokenhearted with me. Be brave alongside me.