"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." - Romans 12:15
Currently, there are little over 1,300,000 U.S. troops serving worldwide.
Around 150,000 of them are stationed in foreign countries.
There are immeasurable millions more troops serving globally in behalf of countless other countries that they call "home."
"Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!" - Psalm 31:2
There was nothing unusual the night of February 5th in the southern island town of Kyauk Kar in Myanmar. Children came home from playing; families ate their evening meals together; conversations wound down to a close.
Then, someone smelled smoke.
What happens when your faith runs out?
What happens when it feels like your prayers are going unanswered?
What happens when you study and study and study, just to find out you might be wrong?
What happens if every ounce of your perceived theology comes under question?
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." - Matthew 22:39b
What's the difference between an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) and a Refugee?
Geography. That's it.
IDPs flee their homes due to the threat of violence exactly like refugees do, but end up stuck in camps within the borders of their home countries due to a lack of resources and/or ability to get out. Refugees are lucky enough (or unlucky enough, depending on perspective) to make it out of their home countries.
"This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you." - 2 Corinthians 9:12-14
We all have a tendency to get "used to" that which regularly occurs in our lives.
Call it routine, perhaps.
There are hundreds of examples. Brushing our teeth, getting a weekly assignment done, driving to work. Some might be more significant than others. Saying "I love you" to a significant other, hugging your kids when you get home, going to church on a Sunday morning. We just get used to it all.
"Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things." - Psalm 107:8-9
This is Ester.
As you can see from the picture, she is one of the oldest women in her rural village in Tanzania. For many years now, Ester has suffered from deteriorating eye sight, as well as nearly constant pain in her joints and muscles. Perhaps these symptoms are just a result of old age, but IDES' partner missionaries suspected something more significant.
"And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." - Mark 11:25
Raise your hand if you've ever been hurt by someone you love.
If your hand isn't raised, you're either in heaven already or you're a liar. We've all been hurt by the ones who we love the most, or who love us the most. We are all sinners, desperately in need of God's grace.
For many, the wound inflicted by a loved one often feels deeper than the chance offense of a stranger or an unfriendly acquaintance. Maybe it was your spouse. Maybe it was your closest coworker. Maybe it was your best friend. "How could he/she say such a thing?!" or "I can't believe he/she would stoop so low!"
"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." - Isaiah 55:10-11
The Ukrainian Refugee Crisis / War in Donbass - something most of you probably have not heard about on the news.
Currently, there are around 1.5 million Ukrainian citizens who have fled the violence in the eastern Donbass region of the country. They are flooding into other towns and cities and doing their best to settle, but local economies are totally overwhelmed. There are not enough jobs for these internally displaced families, and resources are scarce.
"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?" - Psalm 8:3-4
I love the Psalms.
No matter how much groveling or asking, the psalmists almost always return to praise and worship by the end of their songs. It's as if in the midst of their distress, a child-like wondering at the expanse of who God truly is completely overpowers their emotions.