Friday, March 13, 2015

10 Year Old Refugee Can Still Sing

Yesterday I was home sick from work, feeling at least a little sorry for myself. While I was lying in bed, scrolling through Facebook, I came across a video that immediately made me forget my self-pity.

In the video, a ten-year old Iraqi refugee named Myriam, was talking to a reporter from a Christian television show. In it she speaks about missing her home, her school and her friends. More importantly, she talks about forgiveness and the way she still trusts God and has hope in God. At the end of the video she sings a song about joy. Now it's one thing for me to describe it, it's another for you to look at it. So take seven minutes and see the video for yourself.

Isn't that just heart-wrenching? The children at the end of the video can still laugh and smile and play. And they're not alone. According to the UN Refugee Agency, there were 16.7 million refugees at the end of 2013 (and we can safely assume that the numbers have not gone down). Of those refugees, about 50% of those are children. So, some quick math tells me that there are over 8 million children like Myriam around the world: children who have had to leave their homes, their friends, family members, schools and everything that's familiar to them. 

Now, I don't know about you, but my conscience started pricking me just a bit. Here is this child whose world has been turned upside down. But she still radiates joy. It got me to thinking about how often I complain or whine. If you ask me, we're a society of complainers. We complain about too many red lights. We complain that the line at the drive-through is too long. We complain that it's too hot, too cold, too sunny, too rainy. We complain that the remote is all the way on the other side of the room or that the latest season of our favorite show isn't on Netflix yet. We complain that the grocery store is out of our favorite brand. There are entire websites devoted to people posting their 'First World Problems'. There are songs that poke fun at our habitual whining (Weird Al Yaankovic - First World Problems). And we raise children to be the new generation of whiners: sharpening my pencil is sooooo much work, I have too much homework, there's too much/not enough ketchup in my sandwich, I didn't feel like going to school today, I didn't get a long enough turn on the swing on the playground, the line for the slide is too long, etc, etc.

Do you see what I mean? Here we are complaining about the most inconsequential things and there are children who can still sing and find joy in situations that we cannot begin to imagine. I was reminded of Anne Frank, another child who was also driven out of her home years ago. While she was hiding in a cramped attic she was able to say 'Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy'. If Anne Frank and Myriam can find beauty and joy, why can't we? 

So the next time you're tempted to complain about your DVR being full or some other petty problem, stop. Take a moment and say a prayer for the 8 million child refugees and their families. And then find something to smile about instead.

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