Pray for the people of Aleppo

Syrian refugees from Aleppo sleep  in Budapest's Keleti train station. ANL-161223-165017001
Syrian refugees from Aleppo sleep in Budapest's Keleti train station. ANL-161223-165017001
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So, Aleppo burns and the world stands on the sidelines, wishing there was more that they could do to help the people get to safety…I can’t imagine what they are going through and frankly I don’t want to. I once supported a family whose 19-month-old child died in a freak accident and in the shock filled days that followed, spent many hours with them. I remember one day over lunch, looking at his mother and saying: “I can’t imagine what you are going through.”

“Don’t even try…what’s the point of you trying to feel what I have no choice but to experience? You won’t even come close, anyway.”

The pictures of utter desolation and agony cover social media and we stop to look, weep and feel angry, unsure of the background to the fighting but knowing that no reason can justify such barbaric behaviour and suffering…blood stained children, dazed, unable to cry…rows of bodies have become all too familiar…a mother weeps and wails as her children have all been killed in an air strike, un-comfortable, beside herself with grief…and a 16-year-old boy walks aimlessly around a blood stained hospital, sobbing and cradling his baby brother’s lifeless body, unwilling to let him go.

When tragedies happen, our response is usually to want to help in any way. Aid agencies rely on our financial support and it makes us feel a little better that we are able to do our bit, but there is a deep sense of wanting to do more, to stop anyone having to go through such suffering.

I have been “suffering” with toothache this week and was unable to take painkillers and so had to face the pain of an infected tooth fighting with antibiotics. Thankfully, I have an army of friends and family who supported me with prayer, brought me flowers and gave me advice; one of them even walked my lurcher for me, which was a real blessing as I hadn’t got the energy to walk around my house, let alone take a highly-strung dog out.

Having followed the situation in Aleppo, I felt guilty to be moaning about my own pain, when so many were facing horrors that I have only known about through history lessons…that such a scenario is going on today fills me with despair. I think we feel that people “over there” live so differently to us in the West, that they don’t have the same feelings as us, that somehow, they can cope better with all that is thrown at them, because they live in a bygone age, with stone houses, dusty track roads and simple clothing. But grief knows no barrier and affects us all deeply, regardless of where we live.

It seems we have learned very little from history…there were bloodthirsty men around when Jesus was born and it’s no different today. I encourage those that pray to pray for the people of Aleppo, not for a temporary ceasefire that allows for a football game on Christmas Day, but for the one real gift that everybody needs…peace on earth and goodwill to all men.

• EDITOR: This is Carolyn’s last column for us for the time being, and what a fine one it is. I hope readers will agree she has written some thought-provoking and interesting pieces. I’ve certainly enjoyed them. Thanks Carolyn.