Missing Home

Jon Opgenorth

Read: Psalm 137

How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? (v. 4)

The choir processed from the back of the slum church, their feet shuffling over the dirt floor, their voices somber in their native South Sudanese Bari tongue. We were deep in a slum of Uganda’s largest city, Kampala. I had worshiped with the Bari many times but never heard a sad song. “What are they singing?” I asked. “Psalm 137,” came the reply. Psalm 137! Why that? It ends by blessing the ones who dash Babylon’s babies against the rocks!

Then I remembered verse 4. The captors of Babylon taunted their Judean captives, forcing them to sing happy songs of Zion, their home. But the captives mournfully acknowledged reality: they were in a foreign land, far from home. On that day in Kampala, my Bari refugee friends gave voice to their lament. They were far from their home in Sudan seeking a new life in the strange land of Uganda. They helped me see the psalm in a new light, which gave insight to my prayers as I thought about all the refugees in the world who miss home.

Allowing for lament gives space to our longing, reminding us that this is not what we were destined for. The Bari worship returned later to joy with familiar and happy jump dancing, living into a future where Christ restores what is lost and reconciles all things to his glory. Where do you lament today? Give space to the longing, then return to living in hope. —Jon Opgenorth 

As you pray, ask God to be with all those who long for home today.