Friday, January 15, 2010

Natural Disaster

By now pretty much everyone who's the least bit plugged into the outside world has heard about the earthquake in Haiti. The devastation is heart-wrenching to consider. So many people killed, and even more left homeless in a city that's now a ruin. What will happen to the already weak government and economy of this struggling nation with all that infrastructure destroyed? Where will the people find food and shelter when they already had so little? The whole situation is just tragic.

Natural disasters like this one always bring up the same questions. "Where was God when this earthquake hit? Why didn't He stop it?" "Did God send this disaster to purposefully punish people?" "How can a benevolent, loving God allow such terrible things to happen?" I have a friend who cites disasters such as this earthquake when she asserts that if God exists He must be an asshole. These kinds of questions and accusations are hard for faithful Christians to address. We don't have a nice, simple answer ready when things like this happen. We can't fully explain the mind of God, and we can't produce proof of God's love that will convince the angry and heartbroken skeptics.

All I can say is that I continue to love God and to believe that God is love. I do not think that God sent this earthquake to punish anyone, and I don't think God is indifferent to the suffering of the Haitians whose entire world has fallen down before their eyes. I believe that God loves those people and is achingly sorry for their losses. I believe that He will be with the people consoling and healing all who will let Him into their lives. I don't know why God set up the world with natural forces that include earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes any more than I know why God engineered humans to have emotions as extreme as wrath and hate. I don't know the mind of God, but I do know that He loves me. I also know that there will be times in my life when I will suffer. I may not end up destitute or in excruciating pain, but even if I do God will still be with me. I trust that my suffering, however severe, will not last forever.

Natural disasters are so large that it's hard to grasp the scope of them. Still, I believe in something even larger: eternity. Sometimes I wonder if the suffering that seems so intolerable to us here on Earth seems more like a scraped knee to an eternal soul hundreds of years after the fact. When I was a child, small disasters seemed all-encompassing because they were more than I could handle. We're more capable as adults, but we still encounter disasters like this earthquake that challenge our ability to cope. Still, this isn't the final incarnation of our souls. Someday we will live eternally with God in heaven, freed from all suffering. What will these disasters seem like to us then? I can only speculate about the answer, and I don't want to belittle the suffering of those affected by disaster. The most important thing for Christians to do is to comfort and help anyone who's suffering, whether it's a child with a scraped knee or the residents of a city that's just been destroyed.

I know I have failed to adequately address the questions about God's role in this disaster. I can live with that. For me, faith is about trusting in God even when I don't understand exactly what's happening. I will not condemn God because of my own lack of understanding, and I will not waste my energy trying to answer questions about whether or not God is to blame. If I believe in love, then I must believe that my reaction requires something much greater than an assignment of blame—it requires action. I will not waste my energy endlessly debating God's role in this disaster because I ought to focus instead on figuring out what I can do to help. I fervently pray that I do come up with an adequate answer to that question.

What will I do to help? I wish that everyone could ask and answer that question when disaster strikes.

No comments:

Christian Love Lessons - Free Blogger Templates - by Templates para novo blogger