Summary: Yes, of course I am proud of the human response and the Christian response to such tragedy. But I am saddened that this is the exception and not the norm. I am saddened that among Christians, we aren’t doing this every day, for every one, earthquake or no
So, as everyone knows, there was an earthquake in Haiti, leaving hundreds of thousands of people dead, thousands and thousands of people buried alive awaiting rescue, and nearly everyone else scrambling for basics–water, food, shelter. It was a tragic event. No one can deny the severity of such a tragedy.
In the midst of this horrific tragedy, there is one bright spot, one tiny glimmer of hope. The entire world appears to have rallied behind Haiti, and is doing all that it can to assist the survivors, so that they continue to survive. Because without the intervention of others, the unimaginable numbers of those who died in the actual earthquake would only be the beginning. The lack of necessities like food and water, medical treatment, shelter, sanitation, as well as the inability to deal with the dead lying around them, rotting and unleashing disease, would cause thousands and thousands of deaths in the coming days, weeks, months, and years.
It’s so strange to think that an event that only lasted less than a minute can have such a devastating effect on an entire population that can last for years, or even decades. One tiny event, brief, unexpected, capricious, and everything is turned upside down. In an instant, everything has changed. Nothing will ever be the same again. And it’s hard to see how anyone involved will ever get over what has happened.
These events can be global, national, social, communal... or they can be personal. We have all had those moments in our lives. Something occurred, and our whole life changed. A piece of news, a death, a relationship ends, a job is lost, it doesn’t matter what it was, we have all faced the big events in our lives, the mental or emotional or the spiritual earthquake that shook us to our very foundations, making us realize that our lives, and ourselves, will never be the same. It is terrifying and tragic and so, so very sad. And if you haven’t had that experience yet, I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you, but you will. Sooner or later, your whole world will be shaken and the structures and patterns and routines that you depend on for normalcy will be leveled, and you will find yourself begging for something so basic, so ordinary, so mundane and trivial, learning in that moment that nothing, NOTHING is trivial, and that we should be grateful for such stupidly small and insignificant things, because in the end, it’s those small and insignificant things that make us who we are. Those things that are so important, and yet seem so trivial, that we don’t even notice them anymore. Those are what we miss in those moments.
In that moment, we learn the true essence of tragedy. We learn that the tragedy isn’t that something bad happened to us. The tragedy is that we had so much and never knew it, never acknowledged it, never appreciated it, and then we lost it, knowing we’ll never, ever, ever get it back. The tragedy is that we have to lose what we have before we appreciate it. The tragedy is that, under normal circumstances, we aren’t grateful for any part of our lives. We live out our day to day existence bitter and angry and miserable. We focus all our attention and concern on what our lives aren’t, instead of what our lives are. So we are always restless, irritable, and discontent, always searching for that magic fix, that silver bullet, that thing or idea or relationship or job or whatever that will make us happy. And when we find it, we discover it only makes us more miserable because we spent so much time and effort, and we have so much emotionally invested, and it turns out to be just one more disappointment. And that, is tragic! Because the answer to all our problems is not finding out what our live is not and trying to acquire it; it is the simple appreciation of what our lives are. That is the magic fix! That is the silver bullet! Being grateful for what you have, now, at this moment! Thanking God for all the stupid little things in your life, because it is those stupid little things that make your life bearable. Thank God for the nagging wife, the lazy husband, the smart-mouthed kids, the unpredictable friends, the drafty house, the piece of crap car, the paper that lands in the yard and not on the porch, barking dog, same old dinner, the same old place, the same old thing–because I guarantee you, a time will come when you will miss them all. And you will give anything to get it back when it’s gone, and gone forever–even the nagging and the back talk.