When They Disappear

Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash.com

Our Hope Is God Sees What We Choose Not To See

by Eric Elkin

God lifts up the poor from the dirt
    and raises up the needy from the garbage pile
        to seat them with leaders—
        with the leaders of his own people!
— Psalm 113: 7-8

Melissa Etheridge recently appeared on the Dan Patrick Show to discuss her love for the Kansas City Chiefs and the fires in California. Etheridge’s home was in the area of the fire, and she was forced to evacuate. Dan Patrick asked what she decided to take with her out of the house. The question made me think, what would I absolutely need to take with me?

Etheridge went through a short list of valuable items in her house. The most cherished possession was an expensive guitar collection. However, in the end, she didn’t take anything. The objects of value were just that, objects. Life was more important than the objects which fill it.

Her story is one of several being told out of California this week. These stories are appearing as the “Immigrant Caravan” reaches Tijuana, Mexico on the U.S. border. The immigrants are also people who evacuated their homes. But, their journey is of a different nature. Unlike Melissa Etheridge, they do not possess the financial resources to set-up a new life. They needed to carry essentials for living the next day.

Reading the stories of the suffering from this week revealed all the reasons in my life to be thankful. At the same time, it made me wonder what happened to the plight of those who suffered last week and the week before? The fires are the new story.  The people devastated by the California college town massacre and the Tree of Life Synagogue have disappeared. 

Prayer of thanks for that tender God—
For that God who says hands are for
holding, praying, and lifting up.
For breaking bread and barriers.
For that kingdom-come, will-be-done God,
please God, in our homes as it is in heaven.
— from A Poem For Survivors on Sojourners

Stories of war refugees fleeing Syria is ancient news. Remember when people were swimming the Mediterranean Sea just to escape chemical attacks and bombs. They have disappeared from our sight. For a short period of time their story was newsworthy, but now we see them no more. Perhaps the only place they are visible is the place they found refuge. 

It is not for lack of empathy that the suffering of people disappears from our sight. We just do not possess the strength to keep looking.  I still believe, with considerable evidence, the vast majority of human beings care for those who suffer. They will risk their own safety to care for the weak and vulnerable. Like water in a river, though, the current of people suffering never ceases. Looking at them makes us feel powerless.

Psalm 113 reminds us why we praise God. God is the one who pulls the poor out of the dirt and raises up the needy from the garbage pile of life. These words are comfortable when we listen to them on our drive to work. They become our strength when we find ourselves in the dirt. They become our hope when our own compassion is too weak to carry the burden of the suffering.

These words remind us, we may disappear from the evening news, but our needs never become invisible to God. Not only does God see, but God also acts. Praise the Lord!


Click to read Psalm 113

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever found yourself in the dirt?

  • What would you absolutely need to take with you if forced to evacuate?

  • How does Psalm 113 affect your vision of the world news?

  • Where do you help pull people out of the dirt?

Like it? Take a moment to support Ordinary Voices on Patreon.


More for you . . .

From the blog . . .


Share to Care