Where is God in the Refugee Crisis

Facing the biggest crises of the past decades causes division and deep concerns in our societies and among Christians as well. The feeling of compassion for these refugees is mixed with the fear of the threat these masses could bring to our culture and lifestyle. Change is inevitable. The political reasons, approaches and solutions are so complex and manifold that it’s hard to comprehend, understand and handle them even for ones with many years of experience in politics. The Word of God commands us to pray for them so they would perform their difficult leadership duty with wisdom and power from God.

God’s Word doesn’t leave us without divine guidance, encouragement and hope in these hard days. The followings truths may help us put the current and the upcoming events in to an eternal perspective seeing God in everything that happens:

1. God is the Lord of History and the Ruler of the Nations. He is above the nations, He commands and they arise, He brings them forth from distant islands. He has not finished His works in history. We may prefer things going as they used to and what we are used to, but this is not the pattern we see in the Bible and in history. Here are some verses about this:

  • Psalms 96:10 - God will judge the peoples with equity
  • Psalms 47:9-10 - for the kings of the earth belong to God
  • Isa 14:26-27 - This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? – God makes the decisions on the fate of nations, including our country, Europe and all other peoples.
  • Isa 60:9 - Surely the islands look to me; in the lead are the ships of Tarshish, bringing your children from afar – movements of the nations are in His hand
  • Isa 60:12 - For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined.

Since God is the Lord of history, this situation in our times is also under His power and supervision. He has never lost control. Sadly, too many believers, when it comes to shaking our known world, become practical atheist forgetting that everything happens is under the loving control of God. If our hair is numbered would God not keep this crisis under His control?

2. The Cross is the central event and message of history. God sees the existence of the whole world and history in and from the perspective of His Son. Before the beginning of the world and history He had decided that He would do everything by His Son, through His Son, in His Son and for His Son. Jesus Christ is the essence, the center, the origin and the aim of all existence. There is nothing that was not created for Him, through Him and by Him. God’s motivations in creation and history are centered around the person and works of Christ. Therefore the purpose of history is nothing but enhancing the knowledge of Christ’s person and works, and history is a means in God’s hands to fulfill the Great Commission. Ephesians chapter 1 beautifully describes that from the eternal past to the eternal future He did and does everything for Christ.

3. God’s purpose with all what is happening is spreading the gospel, making His love known for everybody. Challenges of history are the moments of grace for those who place themselves under God’s lordship, and the moments of judgment for those who reject His grace. These days are a huge opportunity of repentance for those nations that we could never reach otherwise. We, as the Church, could not go or was not willing to go to these nations, so God has brought the nations to us. God gave a command to the church to take the gospel to the ends of the Earth. His gospel is valuable, the souls of the lost are so priceless to Him that He will do everything to save even one person (Is 43:4). If we are afraid that the “Christian” Europe is becoming “Muslimized” then we either underestimate the gospel, the power of the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit; or, we are afraid to face the potential sufferings, conflicts and sacrifices that proclamation of the gospel always required whenever it advanced. God’s people always grew under pressure – Israelites in Egypt under slavery multiplied just as the church expanded greatly during persecution. The gospel has always made progress amidst suffering and persecution. The Church has never been defeated by outer enemies. The gospel message has never been broken down by persecution. On the contrary. Jesus said that not even the gates of Hades can win over the Church (Mt 16:18). The Church and the cause of the gospel only had been significantly weakened from the inside. The lukewarm, uncommitted, closed minded, passive believers, paralyzed by their fears and not knowing the power of the Spirit are the real roadblocks to the gospel and the Church. Sufferings and hardships separate wheat and chaff, real and fake, and they always enhance the progress of the gospel. Our current situation also serves God’s purposes and the cause of the gospel.

The current crises reveal some difficult truth about us. What are we more concerned about: our country’s future or the progress of God’s Kingdom? Our culture or the gospel? Our lifestyle or the lost? Our purposes or God’s purposes? When the reality to obey to the Great Commission comes close and causes inconveniences, fears and comes with threats, then the reality of our hearts will be exposed. What if God wants to use this situation to save hundreds of thousands of people from hell and revive the church in Europe? Does he have the freedom to choose so? Yes. Can he do it? Yes. Will he do it? I don’t know. But I want to be available and ready if he decides so.

4. We have no reasons to be afraid. On the one hand, because being in God’s will is the safest thing even if everything changes and the world we used to know disappears. On the other hand, perfect love drives out fear (1John 4:18). I hear many people (Christians and non-Christians) talking fearfully about the progress of Islam in Europe. The concerns about Islamization of Europe and the increase of the threat of terrorism very well be justifiable, but we, who know the Lord can proclaim the gospel with boldness and love both to the strangers among us and to those who are afraid of them. Beside Islamization of Europe it is at least this big of a threat that lukewarm, liberal, cultural Christianity and joys and enticements of life seduce more and more Christians, and consumes the Church by shameful moral compromises.

5. Jesus will keep us accountable about what He has commanded to us. Here are some of those.

  • Love our enemies and do good to them – Mt 5:44-48. The one who fears is not made perfect in love – 1John 4:18.
  • Help the needy, because it is like doing it to Jesus – Mt 25:35-40.
  • Share the gospel with all nations – Mk 16:15. The nations are here now.
  • Pray for our leaders – 1Tim 2:2.
  • Respect the governments’ efforts to maintain order and obey its rules – Rm 13:1-4 – except if those are in conflict with God’s commands – Acts 5:29.

When, where and how we have to put these principles in practice: we all need to get to our own inner conviction before God.

6. God loves these refugees, Muslims or migrants just as much as He loves you and I. They bear the image of God just as much as you and I do. Christ died for them just as much as He died for you and I. It is only God’s grace that we are not in their shoes. You gave no more or less reasons to be loved by God than they did. If we had been born in their land, we would be like them and would be doing exactly what they are doing. We are not a bit better than they are. It is the sheer grace of God that we are not refugees and were not born in a Muslim country. We did nothing for being born here and being raised in this culture, we did nothing for getting to know Him and possessing all that He has given to us. All this is His free gift: our country, our culture, our circumstances, our skills, etc. We are among the luckiest few percents of the world. We should receive this grace with great thankfulness, humility and joy, and also with a sense of responsibility and obligation.