From Paris to Syria With More Questions Than Answers

Monday morning she walked through my classroom door. I had anticipated her arrival. My student from France. I knew her hurt would be the same I’d felt for days and weeks and still from 9/11. Pain without words.

Her eyes were heavy with the burden of sadness. I offered all I had—an embrace attempting to squeeze hope into her heart.

Because hope can bind the most broken of souls.

My voice has been quiet this week. Words have been few while my mind swirls of a thousand thoughts and questions. Words have escaped while my heart clenches tight at the whole-wide, broken world.


They jam-up, collide, skid through my news feed. Running together so fast they blur in my salty tears.


Paris. Terrorists. Refugee. Syria. Muslim. Christian. Jihad. Love. Hate. Good. Evil. Fear. Courage. Forgiveness. Bloodshed.

Polarizing. Splitting down the center of my heart. My core. My soul.

I don’t know anything but a broken heart for this world.

And I don’t have answers. I’m not a member of our brave armed forces with special clearance of classified information. I’m not a statesman with foreign policy expertise. I’m not a theologian with years of biblical study in the original languages.

I’m a privileged, small-town, white American girl with zero understanding of what it’s like to live in fear.

I know nothing about running for my life.

And I know nothing about fighting to make sure my countrymen keep their freedom.

I lock my doors at night. And I wonder—is that the same as locking our country’s borders? Is that the same?

It seems the collective mass of social media has an answer for our world-wide brokenness. Overnight we’ve become experts of foreign policy and theology. And when the two try to shake hands, we turn to fear and shout we’re all doomed because every refugee is a terrorist.

Maybe I wish more would admit their hard questions and silent grapplings than to see quick judgments of hate and sudden knowledge of how to solve everything.

When I hear the words Syrian refugee, there are so many things I don’t know.

How do I connect the words of my Jesus in Matthew 25 to the role my country should play in protecting its citizens?

“Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’” (Matt. 25:24-25)

Words that are hard to ignore…

God calls us to be wise. But is that the same as safe? I don’t know of any scripture in which God promises us the safe. He called prophets to the lion’s den and tent makers to martyrdom.

The Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission. To love God and to make Him known.

To make Him known.

Yes. Here in my small circle of neighbors and friends and community. But also. Also to the ends of the earth. The splintered cross of Calvary isn’t just for me. Jesus came to save the entire spinning world of humanity and yes—that includes the Muslim.

It’s not wise to welcome the terrorist. I get that. Yes. A resounding yes. But won’t they come anyway?

And do we turn away the literal thousands and thousands of heaving, broken souls who are desperate for a shred of hope, a sliver of light because of our fear?

Because for all the fear that wells up in my soul, my thoughts cannot escape, cannot run fast enough away from one image. Just one.

The refugee mothers.

To know the horror of fleeing with my babies. Trying to hold tight to their hands. Desperate to let their tiny souls know a life outside of fear. Having to watch as evil wins, and they perish before my very eyes.

To imagine spreading newspaper on the cold ground for my children and calling it a bed. Hiding behind walls and jumping at the slightest noise. Looking into the eyes of my son and daughter knowing I can’t tell them, “It’s going to be okay.”

Motherhood is a binding experience. Human. Connective. The strings of my mother heart reverberate with the tormented days of the refugee mothers. And when I attempt to imagine walking in their shoes?

I cannot. Cannot turn away.

Because who will bring them hope if Christians do not?

Call me a bleeding heart. Call me naïve. Call me ignorant.

I’ll agree.

I have more questions than answers. But maybe that’s the place to begin. Because in the end, I am left with only these words—

Sweet Jesus. Please. Bring us to our knees, to ask you collectively, what shall we do? Oh Jesus. What would you have us do?

And give us the courage to do it.

Light in the DarknessPublic domain image, royalty free stock photo from Imagine

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