Where Is God In This?

So there’s a song going through my head and even though I’ve been an atheist for ten years, it’s a Christian hymn:

Hold to God’s unchanging hand, Cling to him who will not leave you whatsoever life may bring…

At the same time I’m reading a news article, looking at a photo of Iraqis waiting at the side of the road for a ride to a displacement camp. Quite obviously they are believers; the one woman is dressed head to toe in black with only a slit to see through, so I can’t see her face. But others beside her don’t look at all like they’re having the time of their lives. After all, their highest hope for this life is to be driven by open truck to a refugee camp–those places of horror from which we in North America rescue people.

Cling to him who will not leave you whatsoever life may bring…

I become aware of the music inside my head, the promise of words sung in happy hopeful times. Family times, social times, with self and loved ones safely and securely sheltered inside solid houses full of food and clothes, with bank accounts full of money to buy more. And police whom we can call on to serve and protect. In those times when it took more than one crop failure, more than one break-in, to ruin us, it made sense to sing: Cling to him who will not leave you whatsoever life may bring.

But these people sitting on the side of the road with all their earthly possessions in two handbags, having nothing to hope for but a ride to the refugee camps…The incongruity hit me. Like upper-middle class Christians, these people also call Abraham their father.

Is this the blessed life promised to Abraham and his seed forever??? A sign of God’s presence? Did not God leave them the minute their government failed to serve and protect?

If they survive, I am sure some of them will give credit to their faith, to Allah but still…

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