How long will you forget me Lord? Forever? How long will you hide from me? How long must I worry and feel sad in my heart all day? How long will my enemy win over me?
questions the psalmist pours out to the Lord and are questions I'm now asking
after meeting Wick and Anwar. These young men, boys really, have fled the Sudan
and are now barely surviving in Egypt. The Xtreme team meets them at Refuge
Egypt, an Anglican ministries focused primarily on services to refugees from
the Sudan. People are provided a safe haven here. A shelter from the harsh
realities of fleeing a country that has slaughtered their family and living in
a country that doesn't want them.
Sitting in a small, hot sticky room, where I can smell my teammates sweat and see it run down their faces I am on the verge of tears. I am sad. I am sad that they have lost their families, their homes, their way of life, and been forced to grow up too soon. I am sad at the injustices running rampant in our world.
But this sadness quickly turns to anger. I am angry at the Egyptian government for making it difficult for them to prove their refugee status and once they do not guaranteeing them health care or education. I am angry at Egyptians for not hiring them while at the same time charging them higher rent just because they can. My anger continues to grow as Wick tells us about paying to play on a soccer field but getting kicked off when an Egyptian team wants to play and as Anwar talks about having water dumped on him as he walks down the street.
Weeks later I'm still angry, the gift of time has not provided me with answers. I used to think if the three main world religions came together humanitarian issues could be eradicated. But how can Christians, Muslims, and Jews address these injustices when they are the ones doing the persecuting? How can you love God and hate? Hate your neighbor; hate them to the point of genocide?
Lord look at me. Answer me my God. Tell me
or I will die. Otherwise my enemy will say I have won. Those against me will
rejoice that I have been defeated.
For the last 10 years I have been in a spiritual wilderness. I haven't been able to see, hear, or feel God. I've been wallowing in bitterness and pain and my identity has become wrapped up in these negative emotions. I've become addicted. Though my head knew it wasn't true, I couldn't convince my heart that God loved me. How can I expect God to love me when I can't love myself? How can I ask others to love me when I don't think there is anything in me worthy of love?
I trust in your love. My heart is happy
because you saved me. I sing to the Lord because he has taken care of me.
Wick started singing praise songs and his whole aura changed. He lit up from somewhere deep within. I was jealous. Here was a man living what I would call a miserable life and he loves the Lord. His hope is in Christ. He knows the redemptive power of salvation.
How can you love the Lord and hate? Hate your neighbor, hate them to the point of genocide, or even hate yourself? I came on the Xtreme team in a last ditch attempt to find God, to see if I was still accepted. I thought He had abandoned me. But if God hasn't abandoned Wick and Anwar then he most certainly hasn't abandoned me.
How long, oh Lord, must we all wait to sing?