Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rocks and Hard Places

The earthquake devastation in Haiti is heavy on my heart today. The pictures in the newspaper, the eyewitnesses' accounts on the radio... The human pain and suffering, the infrastructure's obliteration... And this is only a very slim sampling of the disaster. My prayers go out to the victims and survivors and all their loved ones. My prayers also go out to the countries and leaders who can – who must – help the Haitian residents get back on their feet and rebuild a better, more peaceful and more prosperous existence.

This is one of those hard places for faith. Questions haunt us, questions like "How can God let this happen?" and "Why does God let human suffering – from poverty or hunger or earthquakes or all of the above – exist?" The answers are there, too. "God didn't do this." "God is with us in suffering." Cerebrally I believe, but my heart and soul are aching for a quicker fix. So I stare at the Bible verse I stuck on my bathroom mirror this week:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  
James 1:2-3

And I think of the more secular corollary: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Then I try to purge my doubt and cynicism in prayer.

God, bring the people of Haiti closer to you. Hold them gently and lovingly in your hands. Fill them with clean water, good food, hope, and so much faith. Surround them with safe dwelling places, with helpful people, and with all your love. Help us all to see your powerful, compassionate presence at work in response to this crisis. Help us to have faith in you and your ways. Help us to rejoice in your eternal salvation and to be patient and steadfast when it seems so very far away.  Amen.

But this isn't where I thought I was going with this post at all. I thought I was going to explore the idea of rocks. Jesus, the rock. Putting first things first – as in filling a jar with rocks first and the sand can still be poured in after, but it never works the other way around. You get the idea.

I was all excited about my brainstorm to put a Bible verse in my electronic calendar each week in the form of a Sunday morning appointment. First things first. Focusing on my Rock and my Redeemer. Surely this would help me keep God and his Word in my focus throughout the day and week. Small thing. Good habit. A bit to tidy and trite for God's taste.

So God blows my perspective wide open today with the news about Haiti. I weep and utter thanks for my beautiful family and our safety. I realize that having God in my heart and my family around me are all that really matter. I don't need a Bible verse in my calendar to remind me that. I need an aware and compassionate heart, one that remembers that today is a gift, tomorrow is uncertain, but eternity in heaven is given by God's unconditional grace and love. That promise, I know, is rock solid.

And as for that brainstorm that I was feeling so spiffy about... I'm still going to stick with the Bible verse in the electronic calendar, but when I look at them I'll also be thinking of Haiti and God's loving presence in every hard place.

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