The least of these: the story of a lost monkey in the midst of an international refugee crisis

This past weekend my three-year old son Frederick lost his favorite animal friend, Monkey. He has loved Monkey since the tender age of six months when he literally pulled him from the bookshelf into his crib. They have been BFFs ever since.

From six months old until now, Frederick has snuggled with Monkey every nap and bedtime.
From six months old until now, Frederick has snuggled with Monkey every nap and bedtime.

IMG_5632I realized quickly we needed a replacement in case a tragedy would ever befall his closest friend. I found out it was a one-time buy from TJ Maxx and replacing it would be nearly impossible. Then one day a friend told me she had the same monkey bouncing around the floor of her car. I offered any amount of money she needed to get that monkey! She gave it to me for free and I hid it away in a closet for safe-keeping.

He just really loves Monkey.
He just really loves Monkey.

One day while I was packing to move, Frederick discovered the replacement monkey and immediately formed an attachment to “Other Monkey.” Now he needs BOTH at all times, especially while going to bed.

This past weekend on a walk down our street Monkey slipped out of Frederick’s hands as he drifted off to sleep. For the next three nights, Frederick cried and expressed deep concern for Other Monkey’s welfare, “Monkey’s crying saying, ‘Where’s Frederick?!’ He misses me. But WHERE is he?? I just LOVE him SO much.”

*cue tears and the biggest frown you’ve ever seen on a three year old’s face*

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So we prayed and asked God to take care of Monkey and to bring him back home. All this happened in the midst of God highlighting and speaking to me from Matthew where Jesus says,

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 18:10

When I read this, I felt convicted about times when I may have “despised” little ones, whether they were my own or others’ kids. I thought there have been times when I may have treated kids with contempt or disdain or thought little or nothing of them and their concerns because it wasn’t on my list of important things for the day.

When we cry out to God like kids cry out to us, he never ignores, never despises.

For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.

Psalm 22:24

In the midst of all the trauma of losing Monkey, the Paris attacks happened and the Syrian refugee crisis was suddenly brought to the forefront of everyone’s attention. I kept thinking about this verse over and over, God does not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted. He cares about the needs and welfare of everyone, from Frederick’s loss of Monkey which is his whole world to the refugees who have lost their whole world in settlement camps crying out for help.

Here’s the thing. After praying, we took action and created a poster asking if anyone had seen the missing Monkey with our phone number on the bottom.

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Just a couple hours later, we get a call from a neighbor who found Monkey. She came by and dropped him off. Her husband found him on the street and threw him in the trash (as one does with ratty, old stuffed animals found on the street). The next day was trash day, so had we waited any longer he would have been long gone.

Sometimes all we can do is pray and cry out to God. Other times we pray, cry out to God, and then take action. Love is always an action. Sometimes it’s simply the act of praying. It’s also an act of generosity, a sacrifice of money, energy, or resource, and a laying down of one’s life and concerns for those in need. I truly hope we can all put love into action in whatever way we can as individuals when it comes to the poor, disenfranchised, widow, orphan, and afflicted.

 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.

                                        Matthew 25:42-45

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