As I write, the death toll in the Haiti earthquake has risen to two hundred thousand and is still climbing. Like you, I am shocked by the devastation of this natural disaster and stunned by the misery and chaos being heaped upon a nation already burdened by poverty and depravation.
Like you, I find myself wanting answers to why this has happened and why God would be willing to allow the people of one of the poorest nations on earth to suffer in this way. As I listen for those answers, I hear some saying that this simply proves that God doesn't exist. And I hear those at the other end of the spectrum stating that we are living in the 'end times' and quoting carefully selected verses from apocalyptic scripture to support their argument. And then, there is me, and perhaps you also, sitting somewhere in the middle, bewildered and confused with our faith sorely tested. Maybe that is the right thing to do - to sit quietly, being honest with ourselves, being honest with God and saying; 'please help us, because we don't understand'. I believe that is how it should be, because to say otherwise is to claim to know the mind of God. To claim to have plumbed the mystery that is God and to know all the answers with such certainty, that one can assert either that God doesn't exist, or that this has happened at his behest.
As I sit, asking God for some sort of reason for this tragedy, I find my thoughts directed to what is going in Haiti now. I see the response of the international community, especially from America - and as one who was on the ground during the great Tunisian earthquake and flood, I know how generous that aid and support will be. I see countries diplomatically opposed to each other, working shoulder to shoulder in an effort to reach those trapped and to provide essential, short term care. I see communities coming together and digging deep into wallets and purses already stretched by recession. I see people with little, giving generously to those who have nothing. In all of this, I see love - and mirrored in that love, I see the face of God.
Although I am challenged and shocked by the scale and ferocity of this tragedy; just as I was by the Aberfan Disaster, the Pacific Tsunami, and the individual and personal tragedies I encounter week by week; I remain devoted to a loving, caring God, whom I see constantly working through people all around me. I continue to believe in a living God who created us in love, gave us free will, and weeps with us as things go wrong on this continually evolving planet. The same God who knows first hand the pain and torment of watching a loved one die a painful and traumatic death.
I don't have the answers we all want to hear and one day you will probably find me pushing my way to the head of a very long queue of those wanting God to explain - 'why !?!?'
Many from our community are responding to the call for financial help towards the rescue effort and some are also helping in more practical ways. In this, we are not simply expressing our humanitarian compassion by sharing the burden of those in distress. We are, through our actions, expressing the love of God for everyone on this Earth.
I hope that as the people of the world continue to respond in whatever way they can, we will all see the face of God in the midst of these generous acts of love.
May the peace and love of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, enfold, support and sustain the people Haiti - and may we and all those working so hard on their behalf, know the blessing of his love in the midst of our efforts, no matter how great or small.
With all good wishes,