Signposts: Daily Devotions

Wednesday, June 4

Then the Lord said to Abram, “Your descendants will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs.”
—Genesis 15:13

Our existential reality may well be that we are a people on the way, far from our true home. But we must not forget that there are millions of people in the world at this moment who, because of war or poverty or environmental factors such as deforestation, prolonged drought or flood, are sojourners not in a metaphorical sense but in brutal fact.

The U.S. Committee for Refugees estimates that there are more than 13 million refugees and displaced persons around the world. More than half are women and children. These people are indeed far from home, many with no hope of return. Like children of Abram, they are sojourners in a land not theirs–“strangers and afraid in a world they never made” in the words of the poet A. E. Housman.

When my younger daughter was four years old, she was both reassured by the nursery school ritual of roll call, and disturbed by the knowledge of how many people there were in the world. Concerned that perhaps God was unable to keep track of us all, she prayed one night: “Dear God, I think maybe you should count everybody because somebody might be lost and can’t find their moms. Amen.”

Compassionate God, who values every human life and sees every sparrow fall, sustain all those who are far from home, strangers in a land that is not theirs. Help us, in our own sense of exile, to help and encourage those forced from their homes and separated from their families by war or famine or poverty. Bring us all, at the end, into your eternal rest.

The Signposts for June are written by Deborah Smith Douglas and originally appeared on in May 2005.