Late one night in 2011, when I was doing my Residency at The Ohio State University Med Center, I was called up to one of the waiting rooms where a man was sobbing and generally out of control. Turns out he was watching TV when “Breaking News” reported the brutal murder of an un-named young woman in the area. As the news chopper showed aerial footage of the crime scene, the man realized it was the home of his beloved niece.
It was a rare moment in which the daily media atrocities a person watches from afar makes blunt contact with their daily experience. When we watch these tragedies from a distance, I suppose part of us is hoping (or glad) that it is just that–distant, someone else’s story, something detached from our own story. Rarely, if ever, do these “Breaking News” atrocities hit close to where we live, at least where we live in the States.
Two and a half years ago, when I was still in the States preparing to move to the Middle East, I received a Facebook update from my Syrian friend “Samir” sharing his grief over his uncle, a beloved and Godly man, who died after sustaining injuries from a rocket striking his church. I remembered hearing about it when CNN flashed something on that little bar at the bottom of the TV screen they use to inform you of news that is important (ish) enough for you to read while a bigger story is on the main screen. Only this time, the far-away story took on a greater weight and required a greater response from me than I typically give to the countless tragedies that daily flick across my TV screen.
That’s what I get for choosing to be friends with someone in a place like the Middle East–my own story will inevitably make direct contact with the story of someone in a very broken part of the world, and I can no longer just shake my head and be glad I was born somewhere else. I can make a choice to enter that person’s story–choose to be touched and even changed by it–or, I can choose to keep my world untouched and safer–and smaller.
I believe that the Living God–the Creator of the universe–somehow, hears the far-off cries of people that may or may not deserve the mess they are in, and chooses to actually enter into that person’s broken world. I don’t understand a love that huge, and it doesn’t come naturally for me. But it captivates me, that we are loved like this. I want to love this way, too.