To the Families in Boats Tonight

syria photo: Ralph Ellis and Gul Tuysuz, CNN

I can’t get them out of my head tonight: all those families in rickety boats. Hearts pounding out of their chests. Mommas and Daddies breathing hot, wet air and praying their babies don’t make a sound. Some with horrifying images of family members killed playing on repeat in their minds. Sweating, thirsting, and terrified of going overboard, heart leaping into their chest with every lurch and reel of the shoddy little vessel. I can’t stomach it. All the pain, all the anxiety, all the suffering.

And that’s just a tiny fraction of each of their stories. That nightmarish boat ride is just one of a hundred horrible things they’ve had to endure. As I sit in my safe, quiet house, bombs are going off and guns are being fired and people are fleeing for their lives. As I relax in my comfy chair, people are walking thousands of miles carrying food and family members.

And so, to the families fleeing tonight, I write:

I think of you as I watch my daughters eat their dinner until their bellies are full, knowing the pain in your stomachs is nothing compared to watching your own children's hunger.

I think of you as I listen to my daughters’ carefree laughs and stories, knowing you’re hearing painful cries instead.

I think of you as we play “Go Fish” and “Pictionary”, knowing you’d give anything to feel that light hearted again.

I think of you as I brush teeth, help with potty and PJ’s, knowing you’re going without clean water and bathrooms.

I think of you as I snuggle my toddler tight, breathing her in as I hear her own breath in my ear. I hold her longer than usual, thankful for the privilege. I squeeze her tight, knowing Aylan’s daddy and many more of you along with him are aching to hold your babies again.

I think of you as I hug my daughter, tucked in secure with her innocence tonight, knowing some of your little girls have been stripped of that right.

I think of you as I pray with my babies, knowing you’d wish you could pray “thank you for our new pet fish” instead of “please let us make it out alive.”

What these families are facing is unthinkable, and so I can’t stop thinking about them. I’m praying for them with every breath tonight. I refuse to add my own indifference to the long litany of atrocities they’ve endured. I will pray. I will give. I will try in every way I can to show up for these families and give them whatever help is in my power.

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”

“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”

Father, have mercy on us. Lord, take care of those in rickety boats tonight. Jesus, multiply the bread of the hungry. Provide rivers of living water. Prepare a table in the wilderness and be a refuge, a strong tower. You are our only hope. Use us to carry your love, your help, and your provision. Amen.

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