I was in Dohuk in N. Iraq this month visiting our team working among 20,000 Yazidi refugees from the city of Sinjar not far away. The same day I was at the Yazidi refugee camp the town of Sinjar was liberated by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces from Islamic State (IS). It was both a day of rejoicing and a day of sadness. Rejoicing because the city was liberated, sadness because practically every building in the city has been damaged or destroyed by the IS. There is not much to go back to.
This event reminded me why Operation Mercy exists and why I am so honored to be a part of it. Operation Mercy does not exist to feed the hungry, although we do that. Neither is it to help the disable, although we do that. At the core, Operation Mercy exists to help people find hope when the future looks just as scary as the past. We can do that by being at their side in the midst of their trials and storms in the same way God is at our side in the midst of our own troubles. Since we are all created in God’s image we are image bearers of God. We are, in part, bearing God’s very presence and hope just by being there and being expectant for a better future. This is the promise we celebrate at Christmas. Yet when I was in N. Iraq I felt pain for the refugees and sadness over this human tragedy. I am not ashamed to admit that I sometimes wonder why our good and loving God allows so much sorrow and pain to leak into this beautifully world he created. At the same time, I sense the compassion he has for the suffering. I see the world is broken and have a strong confidence that He is in the business of restoring and healing. This is my hope.

Perhaps this is one reason Aaron Keys’ song, Sovereign Over Us means so much to me. It reminds me of God’s promise… not a promise to keep troubles and sorrows from us but a promise to be present with us in the midst of them. A promise that the future is better than the past. Below is the text.

Sovereign Over Us by Aaron Keys

There is strength within the sorrow, There is beauty in our tears
You meet us in our mourning, With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting, Sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding, You’re teaching us to trust

Your plans are still to prosper, You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
Faithful forever, Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

You are wisdom unimagined, Who could understand your ways
Reigning high above the heavens, Reaching down in endless grace
Youʼre the Lifter of the lowly, Compassionate and kind
You surround and You uphold me, Your promises are my delight

Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good, You turn it for our good and for your glory
Even in the valley You are faithful
Youʼre working for our good, Youʼre working for our good and for your glory.