Where is God in this Tragedy?

The year ended with the joy of the Christmas season turning into horror, sadness and gloom as coastal regions of South and East Asia , and even Africa , were besieged with an unprecedented disaster of enormous proportions. On Dec 26, 2004, an earthquake in the bed of the Indian Ocean with a Richter scale of 8.9 (the highest in 40 years) spurred gigantic waves and a new word to most of us in - Tsunami (tsu harbor + nami wave) – otherwise restrained only in Geography textbooks, became part of our daily conversation. The towering waves with a force of the ocean jolted by the earthquake, travelling at 800km/hr, wrecked havoc to the coasts of 12 nations, from Indonesia to Somalia. Lives, property, infrastructure, entire livelihoods were destroyed in one sweep of the giant waves. More than 150,000 lives have perished, many still unaccounted for and missing. Thousands are wounded.

Where is God in all this? I like the answer provided by an interviewee* who said, "He is crying with the people." Indeed I couldn't agree more. The Incarnation, the reason for celebrating Christmas is precisely Emmanuel – God with us. God is also in the hundreds of relief workers and aid volunteers, dedicating their time, effort, talent to help the surviving victims recover and rebuild their lives. God is in the compassionate donors who willingly and generously empty their pockets to help their neighbours in need. God is most of all in each victim – those who perished (and await their resurrection), and those who are wounded and scarred, physically and psychologically, some possibly for life. God is also very much in those who survived but lost their loved ones.

God is in each of us, you and I, as we join our hearts to pray and do all we can for the Tsunami victims, realising that we are all one in the body of Christ who at present suffers His Passion once again. But with faith, we believe that all suffering in this life is passing, and what matters ultimately is the Kingdom that awaits us. Yet we still have to build this Kingdom on earth today, in the here and now, in anyway that we can, leading one another to share in the great inheritance of everlasting Joy, a Joy that can never be interrupted nor short-lived by any man made or natural calamity, a Joy that lasts.

(*when I covered the prayer service at St. Ignatius Church for the CatholicNews)

(published in the CatholicNews Jan 7, 2005)

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