How do we make sense of devastation? How do we create any sense of understanding so that we have a context by which to answer our children’s impossible questions about the nature of God in the face of natural disasters that seem anything but natural?
How do we make sense of news reports that shout the devastation of 15 American lives lost while the death toll in Haiti approaches 900? Are not each one of those lives equally valuable? And can we somehow account for the reality that, in America, the devastation is real and gutting, but also “treatable?” How can we care for our friends and neighbors locally while still honoring the sanctity of the lives across the globe and those who literally can’t with any assurance promise their children food for the next meal or a remotely safe or secure place to sleep tonight?
And how can these questions bring us to our knees in humble repentance instead of hardening our hearts with cynicism or an overwhelming sense of incapability to exact change in any sort of meaningful way?
Unsurprisingly, I don’t have any answers. I only know that there has to be space created for these questions, and so many more, if we want our categories to expand large enough to offer real “care” for others for whom Jesus Christ has died.
I wrestle with many things, one of which is a deep desire to help people. If I’m not careful, I can lose my sense of worth in the quest to prove my helpfulness. But I am at a loss to “help” here, in the wake of such loss.
All I can think to offer in this place is a sense of poor-ness of spirit. To return to the realization that I have nothing to offer, other than the spirit of God that lives within me. As I am willing to humbly admit this truth, my heart expands with love for all people…drawing me in to care deeply about their reality. And in that care, compassion swells and I find myself wanting to be with them, walking alongside in a way that might not take away their horrific circumstances (because I can’t), but that allows them to sense my presence on this journey with them.
What does this look like for us in light of Hurricane Matthew? I think it looks like us breathing in deep breaths of grace and offering it back out to those with whom we live, work, and play. I think it looks like walking up and down our streets with chainsaws and brooms and offering ourselves and our time to others in need. I think it looks like falling to our knees with those who feel devastated and feeling the weight of that devastation with them. I think it looks like crying out to God in both confusion and doubt, begging for eyes to see where He is at work infusing beauty and instilling hope…opening ourselves up to join Him in this work that seems so elusive. I think it means praying for all those who have suffered and who continue to suffer…for reading and caring and acting in ways that are meaningful to whatever context you find yourself in. For Haiti, perhaps it means praying for the relief efforts so that the presidential election that was scheduled for today can be rescheduled quickly in light of the hope for governmental structure that it represents. Maybe it means joining FPSM or any number of non-profits who have made it their mission to offer literal and figurative cups of cold water in the name of Jesus to those who are physically and spiritually hungry.
I don’t know exactly what it means for you. But I know that, for me, it means dropping to my knees so that I can remember, once again, who I am, who I am not, and who I am called to be for all people – for every single Beloved child of our Almighty, confusing, steadfast, good God.