It’s clear we are all exiles. We live in a world broken by sin. And while sometimes we enter a situation of exile because of our own sinful actions, it’s at least as common if not more that the deep frustration of exile comes upon us due to the brokenness that mars all parts of this world.
Yet for a long time, I never related to it. Exile is being absent from your home or homeland. But I’ve always lived close to where I grew up. Exile implies some sort of persecution. But in the Midwestern U.S., I still see very little persecution for Christian faith. (Merely being called weird or a Bible-thumper on occasion hardly counts as persecution, in my view.)
I realize now, however, my understanding of exile has been too narrow. Beyond physical separation and severe persecution, exile always includes a deep longing caused when our present circumstances are not what they ought to be. And all of us feel that.
We’ve certainly felt it during the coronavirus quarantine, when churches haven’t been able to gather in person, schools and many businesses operate online, and grandparents haven’t been able to hug their grandkids.
But how many of us also feel it because of a strained family relationship? Or a prolonged illness? Or a job lost—as tens of millions of people have experienced this year—through no fault of our own.