According to World Vision, at the end of 2014 there were 38 million people in the world displaced by conflict and violence. That equals all of the people of London, New York City, and Beijing combined. It is beyond my comprehension. 90 percent of nations that are monitored find that citizens whose lives are disrupted by war and conflict remain displaced for up to a decade or more.
I was on my way to work thinking about a student who is having some difficulties in her life. Halfway down the road a car was stopped in my lane. That was when I noticed the funeral procession I was driving past. I stopped and waited respectfully for them to proceed.
And then I started wondering. How many people do I pass by who are hurting from some major conflict and I never notice because I am focused on my own struggles? How many people do I see, but not really? How many of my neighbors flounder in conflict and violence within their lives, perhaps for a decade or more, and I never take notice?
Some people’s pain is easy to see. Refugees make the news every night; their plight is openly broadcast to the world. But your child’s school teacher who is going through a divorce may never tell you. Your dentist who is struggling with the death of his wife will never mention it. The cashier at Food Lion will not tell you her lights are being turned off because her husband’s medical bills have wiped them out.
Are your eyes open to the people you meet? Or are you driving through your days with your mind only on your own problems? Stop and look up. You may be the refuge that someone is looking for.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:35-40