I know I’m a little late writing about the recent tsunami tragedy. I have not been able to keep up with the news until last Thursday when I had time to read a detailed account of it in the local papers. Until then, I had only a vague idea of what had happened. I knew about the tragedy from Monday morning when I saw the headlines in the papers. But frankly, in these last days bad news are so common in the papers that it doesn’t catch us by surprise anymore. It is quite shocking to see how an indifferent attitude slowly creeps up on us.

When I finally had time to read the report, a lot of questions flood my mind. I suddenly realize the seriousness and magnitude of the tragedy. I fell silent for a few days, trying to digest it. Didn’t really talk about it with anyone either. Neither do I want to be in the position to be asked any questions. All the ‘why’ questions. Hell, I am trying to cope with it myself. I may be familiar with some apologetic work and writings such as Lewis’s The Problem of Pain or Yancey’s Dissapointment With God and Boyd’s Is God to Blame: The Problem of Suffering and a few others, and is acquainted with the standard answer for questions like ‘Why does a good God allows suffering?’ and the likes, I still fall silent when tragedy hits close to home. I know now there really is no satisfactory answer. Even God did not answer Job’s why questions in the Bible. How then do we expect to understand it with our finite minds. God only asks that we trust Him…..yes, even in the face of tragedy and especially so when we don’t have all the right answers or any answer at all.

I remember for the first 2 days after I read the report, my mind kept bringing me back to the tragedy. I know I have to do my part and I really want to. What can I do? The only thing I can think of is the offering of prayers and monetary help. Will it make a difference in the face of such devastation? I feel like I’m faced with something really huge. How much can one person’s contribution help? When I think like that I know I’m trying to play God, as though without me the whole world will fall apart. But that is not to say we don’t matter. Every contribution, no matter how insignificant and in whatever form DOES make a difference when we consider the combined efforts of everyone of us. Perhaps it is one of the ways God brings us together in times of tragedy. Such tragedies open our eyes in a way no other events can. It helps us to see ourselves as part of that vast variety of people – of all ages, colors and religions – who together form the human family.

Henri Nouwen said it well in one of his writings, ‘The Greatest Gift’.

“The great gift hidden in our dying is the gift of unity with all people. However different we are, we all are born powerless, and we all die powerless, and the little differences we live in between dwindle in the light of this enormous truth………it sets us free to embrace our mortality with the awareness that we will make our passage to new life in solidarity with all the people of the earth. We come to experience that all people on this planet are, in fact, our brothers and sisters, making the journey through birth and death to new life with us. We are not alone; beyond all that separates us, we belong together. The mystery of life is that we discover this human togetherness, not when we are powerful and strong, but when we are vulnerable and weak.”

Therefore, with God’s leading let us do our part to alleviate the sufferings of those affected by this tragedy even as we mourn with them ………….. and trust God to deal with the bigger problem of bringing about redemption out of this disaster.

rk

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