For this hand-basket we’ve boarded between the Mexican Earthquake and Hurricane Maria, we give thanks;
Let us pray:
Yesterday’s earthquake in Mexico was really bad. I understand it was on the anniversary of another large earthquake back in 1985. What’s with the symbolism? I’m not one to be easily spooked but that unnerved me. Did you see the elementary school that collapsed in Mexico City? Of course you did, you’re God. Twenty-five children were crushed to death. Puerto Rico is being battered by a hurricane, people are certain to die there. Who knows where Maria will go next? In the midst of so many hurricanes that I’ve lost count, twenty-five innocent children died in one of the most horrific means imaginable. Where are you God?
You are in the lives of the first responders, those digging through rubble, and others seeking to offer assistance. That’s the official line. However, at this point, I’m no longer certain. Are you (God) present or are the rescuers trying to clean up the mess you’ve allowed to be made? Are they instruments of your grace and mercy or are they responding to a world where God is absent, death is on the march, and we’ve been left to care for each other (because we’re all we’ve got)? Given what the world’s been through in the past few months, I think those are fair questions.
It’s hard to keep saying, “God has a plan and God is good” when the bodies start piling up. You and I have a credibility issue. The good stuff attributed to you looks random at best and like playing favorites at worst. The bad stuff, which is vast and horrific, seems capricious and mean. You may not intend it that way, but that’s how it feels.
My congregation asks: Why is God doing this? Like it or not, for good or bad, people of faith see you involved in the world. They also want to know why evil and suffering exist; especially if God is so good. They’re not looking to blame homosexuality, crime, Trump, Clinton, or drug addiction on a natural disaster. Instead, they want to make sense of their faith and the complex world around them.
Your people, the church, those who keep this thing running are exhausted. Their hope is faltering, their lives are in peril, and all we can do is respond. At this rate, our response isn’t what it once was. Miracles, grand, sweeping, proactive acts of God used to be your thing. What happened? Were those just stories? I hope not. Because the body count is already way too high.
Richard Lowell Bryant