Syria and My Prayerlessness

LauraAll Posts



My heart sank on Sunday morning when someone prayed aloud for the Syrian refugees.

I had forgotten all about them.

When the news broke in late summer, I gathered the children around me and showed them some of the photographs and stories of people who were fleeing for their lives. We prayed for them right then and there. The Ice Cream Truck drove by our window and I noticed that we each silently told our bodies to sit back down! and resist the siren call. Instead, we turned our eyes to Heaven and said, “Heavenly Father, please let us know if there is something we can do to help”.

That night during bedtime prayers, we sat in a circle and prayed for the people of Syria.

The next day, my sister sent us a link to a list of supplies that we could send. We were delighted: it was something we could do to help. We had an extra sleeping bag and several pairs of like-new shoes. So, we printed the list of needed supplies and gathered as much as we could fit into a big cardboard box. We packed it full, taped it shut, and wrote the address in big, bold letters. We’d take it to the Post Office the next day and send it on its way.

That night during bedtime prayers, we sat in a circle and prayed for the people of Syria.

The next day, we delivered the box to the Post Office. It cost way more than I thought it would and it made me wonder why I didn’t just write a check to a charity and send all that money instead? But, there was compassion packed in there with the sleeping bags and the shoes; someone somewhere needed our humble box of supplies to arrive in the mail. So, I paid the postal worker and the box went on its way, across the ocean to Greece.

And ever since then, I haven’t prayed for the people of Syria.

Not once.

Not one single moment.

So I sat in church last Sunday and repented of my lack of compassion.  I repented of the way in which I often think that a nice gesture – a sleeping bag or a pair of sneakers – will solve the problem and exonerate me from further concern. That day when I smiled at the Post Office worker and pushed the box across the counter, I must have subconsciously thought, I did my part! That’ll fix everything. 

As we know, I was wrong. It didn’t fix everything.

How sobering to see the nature of my heart.

These thoughts were still working themselves out last night when I sat at the kitchen table and talked to a friend about our stillbirth experiences. We’re both approaching significant dates on the calendar and we’re both 5 years away from our losses, so it was good to retell our stories. We needed to hear from one another that our “5 Year Anniversary” thoughts and feelings are normal.

We talked about how the time has allowed us to see the miraculous and intricate ways that God has comforted us over time – from the moment of loss up to the present.  We agreed that when we hear of other women losing their babies, we want to give them everything that helped us.

Wouldn’t it be great to pack it all up in a basket and give it to them in one big gesture of love? 

But, no. It wouldn’t be great. Because it doesn’t work that way.

It didn’t work that way for either of us.

The comfort and healing came to us over time. It was a hug on Day 1, a card on Day 2, a meal on Day 7, a flower on Day 24, a raspberry pie on Day 52, a phone call on Day 365, a song on Day 574, and so on.

More than that, it was Jesus working in us and all around us day, after day, after day.

That’s when I thought of our box for the Syrian refugees and I realized that when it comes to loss like this, a box packed full of supplies doesn’t fix the problem.

Don’t get me wrong: the box is necessary and I’m glad we sent it. We must show our love in tangible ways. We must give from our surplus when we see a need. Those tangible gifts will give a person somewhere to sleep and some way to walk, but I must remember that things don’t fix the true problem.

My friend said, “The only thing that fixes a mother’s mourning is to have her baby back. But I can’t do that for her.” 

The only thing that fixes the Syrian crisis is to have their home back. And the peace back. And the life back.

I can’t do that.

Only Jesus can.

That’s why I was crushed that I had forgotten to pray for the Syrian refugees. Because as a child of the King of Heaven, I have a voice before His throne! I can plead for mercy on their behalf, request help and strength for every person, insight and ability to the surrounding Christians. I can pray that the Holy Spirit would be working on the inside of people to give them hope, courage, wisdom, healing, and faith.

Though I may send a box of supplies, Jesus alone may restore their lives. He who knows the name of every Syrian refugee and doesn’t forget about them for a moment – the One who understands the way heaven and earth intertwine – tells us to pray faithfully.

Jesus tells us that our prayers matter.

When I forgot to pray for the Syrian refugees, I didn’t just forget about them. I also forgot about Jesus’ power. I forgot about His compassion toward all who are oppressed. And I forgot that He gave me a wonderful gift: the calling, and the grace to pray faithfully.

May I learn and embrace ways to do this.

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for the Syrian refugees…