I recently read the story of a woman, her husband and two sons who had to flee their homeland. As if that wasn’t hard enough, the woman’s husband and two sons died while living as refugees. Can you imagine losing nearly your entire family while living in a foreign land? This poor woman had no choice but to return to the dangerous conditions of her homeland. Her only consolation was that one daughter-in-law refused to leave her side. Together they returned to the woman’s homeland in the face of a very uncertain future.
Tragic stories like this fill our evening news nearly every night, but I didn’t hear this particular story on the news. Nor did I read it in the paper. It’s the story of Ruth and Naomi, a story found in the Bible. While it’s a story of tragedy it is also a story of God’s faithfulness. By God’s grace both Ruth and Naomi found a home. Their story ended with hope and a future. In fact if you trace the trajectory of Ruth’s story you’ll find that it leads to a manger in Bethlehem that holds the hope and the future of the world.
I cannot read the story of Ruth and Naomi without wondering about the stories of millions of refugees who are living far from home as I type these words. Where will they find home, hope and a future?
And how will we respond in light of God’s command to our spiritual ancestors: “God executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”
The fate of millions of refugees is not just a political crisis; it must become a crisis of faith for us. For none of us can truly be at home in this world when so many of our brothers and sisters are homeless. For their story to end with hope and a future we must begin to feel their ache for home in our own hearts in a way that moves our hands, feet and hearts to action.
Click here for ways that you can make a difference.
Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN