Human displacement is a faith dilemma.
As I discussed previously, the Bible at no point diminishes the physical, psychological and spiritual severity of being “out of place” but rather validates it as a predicament par excellence.
Scripture may contain the rich calling to a spiritual pilgrimage as sojourners of faith, but the fact remains that nobody actually wants to experience the vulnerability, insecurity and confusion of placelessness.
The psalmist acutely articulates this in the weeping lament of Psalm 137, “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”
We simply are not designed to be adrift in this world, nor are we meant to be strangers toiling in strange lands, but this is precisely the existential crisis at the heart of our world’s displacement crisis.
In his abundant mercies, God has provided the solution for displacement via a particular displacement that changed everything forever.
The gospel is the good news that the dilemma of human displacement, with all its wretched dimensions, has been answered by an act of divine displacement.
In the incarnation, we see Christ’s willful displacement from heaven as he “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7) and bridged the human-divine divide.
His life was marked by hardships endured by the displaced today, early on as a child fleeing death in his homeland and later as a man on the margins of society with “no place to lay his head” (Matthew 2:13, 8:20).
Ultimately, the epitome of displacement is seen nailed on a cross as the living God is “cut off out of the land of the living” (Isaiah 53:8).
Is Christ’s life not one grand story of displacement? There is, therefore, no aspect of the refugee, internally displaced or stateless experience that God does not know intimately well because Christ became the face of displacement so that humanity may be reconciled to God.
Human displacement may be a hallmark of our world, but its days are numbered. God promises that a new creation will come where displacement will be swallowed up by the victory of implacement (Revelation 21).
Displacement’s bitterness will expire to the sweetness of a sweet heavenly home. While we earnestly anticipate future deliverance, the reality is that hope exists right here and right now in the kingdom of God.
God’s kingdom is the ultimate of entities embedded everywhere and possessing the power to transform all who are in place, out of place and anywhere in between.
It is the highest of homelands where everyone belongs, and it is being actualized today in amazing ways.
Where I am I see and hear countless examples of how churches, faith organizations, faith movements and individual believers are witnessing God’s sovereign work of compassion and redemption amid displacement. The kingdom is very real, and it is changing situations from death to life.
You cannot truly engage displacement today and not be inspired by who you encounter there.
Despite the inhospitable conditions in which they live, displaced individuals daily demonstrate a tremendous spirit that testifies to the pursuit of life and faith.
Many are their souls that sing, “‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, / And grace will lead me home.”
We must pray for eyes to see because in the faces of the displaced, there is the face of a Savior who bore the misery of displacement in order to deliver us into everlasting placement in Christ.
Therefore, let us tirelessly minster the kingdom until all who are “out of place” find a place where they belong, a place to call home.
Brent Hamoud is programs manager for a boys’ home in Mount Lebanon associated with Kids Alive International and oversees a literacy program in South Lebanon. He is a 2016 Institute of Middle East Studies graduate. A version of this article first appeared on the IMES blog and is used with permission. His writings also appear on his blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @ThisHamoud.
Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series. Part one is available here.