Saturday, January 23, 2010

No Answers - thoughts on Haiti

I’ve just finished reading this letter from a woman who was in Haiti when the earthquake hit and like many of the stories and images coming out of Haiti, it has left me stunned, weeping and asking questions.

Paramount among those crowding my mind is one thought – Why does God spare some and not others? Why did one man suddenly decided to leave his hotel for a “breath of fresh air” and stand on the other side of the street as the building collapsed, killing almost everyone inside?

Why was that bus load of Canadians held back in the airport so that they were not in the Hotel Montana when the earthquake hit?

Why was an eighteen year old girl and another man killed on a busy Canadian highway when her car suddenly flew across a median and hit another head-on, five minutes after my husband had been at that very spot?

There are no answers to those questions, nor are there answers to the many others that plague us when disasters hit, when some are slain and others saved. The lack of answers might lead some to say, “There is no God,” or “God has abandoned us all.”

But there are other voices to be heard and heeded - like the voice of the woman who was dragged from the rubble of a building singing. Singing! And telling her rescuers there is no need to fear death because God is there. God is there. And then there are the voices of the people who gathered outside the crushed ruins of their church and prayed and sang and praised. The power of such faith is mesmerizing and awe-inspiring. They silence the voices of doubt and despair. They make all the unanswerable questions moot. God is there. Faith sustains.


Yet we, as communicators of the Gospel, need to puzzle over all the unanswerable questions, we need to wrestle with them, not so that we may arrive at any wisdom from within us, but so that our wrestling might bring us to moments of faith that echo and resonate with those we are seeing on our television screens.

Tragedies like the earthquake in Haiti open doors of opportunity for those of us who have been gifted with words or music or art, because it is at these times that people look for meaning, for purpose and for beauty in the midst of the chaos. They look to us and, as the scripture says, we must be “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (I Peter 3:15). We must be able to point them to Jesus, in spite of the pain.

So as we weep, as we mourn and struggle and wrestle with God, let us dig deep into the foundations of our faith and cry out, through our art, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

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