Yusra Mardini. Ever heard of her? I hadn’t.
Until last week when I saw a 30 second commercial about her story and participation in the Olympics.
If you want to see a little more background on the filming of the commercial and Yusra’s story, watch here:
Every time I see Yusra’s commercial, I cry. Why? Is it her bravery? Is it because she pulled 17 fellow refugees to safety in a boat in open water? Is it because she had to flee home, and home is a place defined as war-torn and weary? Is it because after all she has been through, she is able to participate in the games and compete in the sport she loves?
In part, yes. But I think it’s more than that. Yusra Mardini’s life speaks to all of us on such a deep level because I think we all know, deep down, the pain of not being home. Put another way, the ache in our own refugee hearts aches when we hear and see the ache in Yusra’s.
Because as human beings on planet earth, in a way, we are all refugees, loving home, separated for the time being from home, longing to go back. But here’s the beautiful thing about Yusra – she made something beautiful out of her suffering. Rather than perishing in the open sea, or keeping her swimming and survival skills to herself, she swam, doing something no one else on that boat except her sister could do, and together they pulled 17 other refugees like themselves to safety.
How beautiful, and how brave.
If you, like me, live in America, we are not, at the present moment, fleeing for our lives. We are not refugees living in another country because our country has horrible, evil suffering and violence threatening its very existence. But every day, refugee or no refugee, safety or no safety, comforts or no comforts, we should remind ourselves that like Yursa, we are not home yet. Because that reminder forces us out of our comforts, out of our tendency to drift into normal, comfortable, mundane everyday existence, and reminds us to live and breathe and die to pull others in to safety.
Because not everyone can swim. Not everyone knows the Gospel, has heard the Gospel, and has personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But if you are a follower of His, you do. You know the survival skill of swimming to shore and safety, pulling an open raft. And just like Yusra, if we don’t swim, and we don’t pull, we are without excuse.
Look around you for a moment. Who is in the raft beside you? Is it family members you know and love? Is it neighbors, friends, teachers, parents at your child’s school? Is it co-workers, business partners, day laborers, or clients? Then stop sitting there, get out of the raft, and swim. Open your mouth and share about the hope you have. Shut your mouth and live in humility, love, and forgiveness instead of pride, arrogance, and unforgiveness, and let your actions speak loudly for themselves. Open your Bibles and believe the truths that yes, this world is under the curse of sin, yes, suffering and evil happens, yes, we are all refugees here, looking for home, safety, security, peace, absence of fear, and comfort, but we are not home yet. Earth is not home in its present state because it was never meant to be. It is only one day, in the presence of King Jesus when all wrong is put to right, all evil is redeemed, all injustice is reversed and the Just One rules and reigns and sits on the throne, then we will be home.
But not now. Not yet.
And until that day, we are all on a team of refugees, sitting in the middle of the ocean, with a broken motor on a broken boat. Unless we know Christ. And He is the One, actually, who pulls to safety. He just lets us in on telling others how to enjoy the ride.