Maria, Mexico, and Pain that Overwhelms


For a couple of days I have watched, admittedly from the comfortable confines of my home, the unfolding drama in Mexico because of the earthquake, and the unfolding events in Puerto Rico because of Hurricane Maria. Of course, both of these horrid disasters come on the heels of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey; and all of these events are just part of a larger portrait of global angst ranging from threats to the Rohingya people in Myanmar to the crisis in Venezuela, with many natural tragedies found in between these two man-made atrocities.

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Following the massive Japanese earthquake and tsunami in the spring of 2011, I mused publicly about the trauma and pain of it all. Like then, I wrestle. For the life of me I do not know why God allows such things to occur as they do. I get the theological answers regarding the earth’s yearning for the consummation of all things. I understand the fact that with each passing day we are stepping closer to the Glorious Return, and that part of the raw dynamics precipitating that climatic event is a nasty parade of natural disasters. I can grasp the notion that all of creation was jolted by Adam’s rebellion, and has not been the same since; sin is awful, and its effects are devastating. I do indeed understand these realities. I am at peace with them. Again . . . I get it. But when I see the woeful eyes of humanity scrambling out from under crushed buildings and watch in horror as entire villages are swept away, I have to admit that there is something deep within me that simply jettisons my rationality and replaces it with intensely raw pain and a host of questions to God that all mean something like Why?.

And the answer I get in return is not a theological discourse on the sovereignty of God or the brokenness of creation. The answer I get is more an invitation from my Lord to trust Him with a crushed soul that prays with compassion, with eyes willing to weep, and with hands willing to help, presuming, of course, that I am somewhere where such hands can be offered. Moreover, the Spirit of God moves me to not be quick to come up with reductionistic answers to the tragedies of time and space.

What else can I do? Perhaps cry out as the psalmist of old: To you, O Jehovah, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy. . . . (Psalm 30:8)

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