Recent disasters like Hurricane Ike, the earthquakes in China and Taiwan, and even the recent Metrolink accident can overwhelm people with emotions like fear, anger, frustration and even dread. What do the Scriptiures tell us of coping with the aftermath of these disasters, and how can we become better people as a result?
In times of horrible natural disasters, Scripture gives us first of all a voice of lament.
The Psalms in particular provide not only the words, but also the permission to wrestle with God in these times when God can feel painfully absent. “Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress” (Psalm 102). The Bible makes room for the human experience, which is full of struggles and questions, tears and wailing.
Secondly, Scripture offers a word of hope that God really is present when we have lost everything. The prayers in Psalms turn our attention back to God, who was and is and will be. God cries with us in times of despair. We know from experience that when we reach up to God from the bottom of the pit, God extends a hand to us.
Jesus reminds us that God calls us to be people of mercy and compassion. When we are outside looking in on a tragedy, we are often the hands of God. We muster our resources to feed the hungry, bring water to the thirsty, welcome the dislocated stranger, and offer clothing to those who have lost everything (Matthew 25:31-40). The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) works side-by-side with relief and recovery agencies around the world to make sure that people experience mercy and compassion when they need it the most.
Finally, we must also consider that Scripture turns us to repentance. We are doing things to our planet that result in more destructive storms. We have been careless in our management of the gift of creation. We become better people as we acknowledge these mistakes and begin the difficult work of restoring the planet together.
PAIGE EAVES is pastor of Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church. Reach her at (818) 249-6173. REV. PAIGE EAVES is pastor of Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church. Reach her at (818) 249-6173. PAIGE EAVES is pastor of Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church. Reach her at (818) 249-6173.