The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand,
satisfying the desire of every living thing.
God has no hands but ours.
It’s trite, sentimental, overused, and hackneyed. It’s also true.
As part of a 3-person delegation to the refugee camps of northern Iraq, I learned that truth anew this summer. Sponsored by the Disciples of Christ, we documented women’s empowerment programs supported by their “Week of Compassion” (parallel to One Great Hour of Sharing).
We met with women who fled their homes three years ago when ISIS (or “Daesh”) invaded Kurdistan and the mountain region of the Yazidis. They’d lost fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons. Without a male relative to protect and provide, the women and their children are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable—just like Ruth, Naomi, and the other widows and orphans of the Bible.
Because the other two in the delegation were men and because many stories were of rape and sexual slavery, the interpreter and I often did the interviews alone. Time and again, I wanted the proverbial magic wand to take away the deep hurt and deeper fear that is still part of life in camps 40 miles from Mosul. But all I had was a listening ear and a cell phone to record the women’s stories.
What I have now is the chance—and the responsibility–to share those stories. What you and I also have is Psalm 145 with its promise of God’s open hand. For the women of the Iraqui camps and the other 65 and a half million “forcibly displaced people,” aka refugees, around the world, I pray we remember we are the only hands God has.
The eyes of all wait upon you, God. They wait upon us, too. Open our hands and our hearts. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Part 1 and Mark Part 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.