Week of the Darkness versus the Light: Devastation

Photo credit: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

In honor of this week of Halloween, and remembering the departed, I will post about themes that deal with the battle of darkness versus light.  This post’s theme: how do Christian respond to devastation.

No one needs to delve into the supernatural to find horror and destruction.  There’s nothing supernatural about Hurricane Sandy as it proves to be a force of destruction that seems apocalyptic.

For many, there will be no celebration of Halloween.  Many cities in the Eastern US will be focusing instead on the necessities of survival.  Not many lives were lost, but many forms of livelihood were.  The storm did not leave much to look forward to.

What Christians have to be careful about is not to, “explain the storm away.”  It is not a time to criticize institutions, or blame “sin” as a contributing factor to reason for Hurricane Sandy’s existence.  Beware of the temptation to say, “This was God’s work,” or to think, “They must have deserved this.”  In fact, please DO NOT offer the lamest statement of all: “God has a plan.”  This statement, although true, can backfire and does not always sound hopeful…at the wrong time it can sound apathetic.

IT IS a time for neighbors to reach out.  It is a time of mourning loss as a community.  People need to lend a shoulder, give a hug, and let people cry, shout in anger, feel deep loss and fear.  In a phrase: we need to let each other be human.  Become witnesses to sorrow, and supporters of each other.

The worst thing that a Christian can do is to say something that is empty.  Empty statements do not dispel the darkness away.  They, in fact, increase it, and may cause a person to feel like they are alone and confused; maybe become even disappointed and angered.  Empty statements are a lack of support in a critical time.

Devastation comes in so many ways.  It comes as a hurricane, an earthquake, a fire, a war. . . .  Devastation often affects a community, and it is very personal as well.  It is devastating to a family to lose their home, or to be effected by a murder.

What can Christianity offer in such dark times?   Does not the world expect Christians to be a sign of hope, love, generosity, and heroic service to others?

There are so many organizations that offer such values and are not Christian.  Yet, this does not make the work of the Christian Church less valuable.  In times of devastation, it should never be about who is giving the most, but about whether a community was able to come together.   Will Republicans and Democrats merge great ideas to help out communities, or will they spend time debating about which idea is better?  Will Christians help rebuild the local synagogue and mosque, or will they dismiss such opportunities as unimportant?

Christians have much work to do to place themselves in the community.  The more hands, the better.  Devastated communities need prayer as well as a helping hand.  In the case of Hurricane Sandy, Christians need to be honest and say, “I don’t know why this happened.”  And then pick up a shovel and help clean up.

Then the darkness will fade a little more as the light of Hope shines brighter.


7 thoughts on “Week of the Darkness versus the Light: Devastation

  1. Misha

    the theme of darkness versus light –makes me think of: Light in the darkness…as in John 1:4-9…it cheered me up a bit…as did seeing that lovely statue of Our Lady still standing! Her Immaculate Heart surely goes out to those suffering, because she’s our Mother too

  2. Sophie Marquez Jr.

    Read a lot of negativity in this article. How about Christian Prayer for the victims. As we all know, Prayer works wonders.

    1. Gilbert Marquez Jr. Post author

      The negativity is constructive criticism. I pose a challenge to those who think that only prayer is needed. I pose a challenge to those who think “God does things to bad people” or that “God must have had a reason for this.” I pose a challenge for Christians to watch what they say and instead do more.

      To read this post as generally “negative” misses the point. Please re-read. And let me know what you think then.

      Thanks for reading and replying! I love engaging readers!

      1. Sophie Marquez Jr.

        Re-read again a couple of times. Don’t know many christians that would think negativly about that storm. Haven’t heard anyone blame God either. The storm happened. It is the time to help and clean up. Do it out of service to God, and for the love of our brothers and sisters.
        Even non christians help. Just for the fact of helping others. Just because there was a storm, why does it automatically become dark and evil? Why does it become a force of destruction. If we experience a tragic event in our life, it is dark and evil, or a force of destruction? In the young stage of our lives, we “fall in love” and are destroyed when the relation ends. Is that dark and evil and destructive? (Maybe at the time it seems rightly so, but as we grow wiser, we know different…)

        How about Christian prayer for the victims… God says prayer is the answer. Without prayer, there would be no help. P

  3. Gilbert

    Great questions about why an event may seem dark. I didn’t read anything in my post that said it was “evil.” Yes, I believe there is a difference to the words “dark” and “evil”. It’s as simple a difference as saying, “Its dark outside” and “Its creepy in here.” One phrase is commenting on the fact that there is no light, or much more less light than usual. The latter phrase is commenting on the feeling of a slightly evil presence for whatever reason.

    There was a storm, and it was destructive. There are other storms, and they don’t cause any damage. This Storm Sandy was destructive in major ways. No need for explanation there. Too many pics on google to prove that quite clear.

    Calling it evil would be placing blame on the supernatural. Yet, I think that it would be presumptuous to blame a serious storm on the supernatural….unless it was created unexpectedly and rapidly like a freak storm or something. But generally, it’s not wise for anyone to call a storm evil. So it’s not surprising to me that I don’t run into people calling event of nature evil, even if it was a fire, tornado, or earthquake.

    Destructive events are dark. When someone believes that, and explains an event as dark, they are metaphorically saying that the “LIght of Hope” is dimmer than it usually is. Normal life has stopped. The consistency of whatever routine a person had is disrupted. It’s not so much that events are “automatically dark,” but that the human experience confirms that destructive events are also considered dark events because they were events that it was hard to see God present and God’s mercy during the event.

    Are tragic events dark? Yup, all the time. Are they destructive? Ah, not necessarily so. The above paragraph I wrote that destructive events are dark. But tragic events, just because they are dark, are not necessarily destructive in the way we use that word. It’s a very strong word. “Destructive” is like “Devastation.” Nothing left. Almost all hope gone. But tragic events don’t have to be destructive and devastating.

    Take the people who lost their home as an example. They experienced a destructive event. They are dealing with tragedy. It is dark. Let’s hope they will experience some hope in the neighbors that are helping them, in the churches that are feeding and hosting them. But they have a VERY LONG way to go. Their life is changed, and they will need professional help in many areas, including the psychological, to help them through this dark time. Is the event evil that occurred in their life? No, it was a storm created by nature. But it doesn’t take way the tragic and dark aspects of the event.

    Are all tragic events dark? Yup. But devastation sometimes is in the hands of the person experiencing it. Someone who finds another to fall in love with, and then does not end up with a positive courtship can be lead to a tragic event of a break up. But it does not mean the break up is devastating. It is only devastating if the person experiencing the break up does not deal with the break up in a healthy manner. There is grieving, and there is depression. If the person does not check in with friends and instead becomes reclusive, or doesn’t share feelings with anyone, that person is having destructive behavior that is scaring their well being. The person needs to get professional help so that they stop making a tragic event become a destructive one.

    Same thing with death of a loved one. Losing someone is never easy. Someone could lose their 98 year old cousin, and that could be a hard loss. The person could even say, “I feel devastated.” That would be perfectly human to feel such loss and grieve so deep for someone. But it still doesn’t make the tragic event a devastating one. The person who experiences the loss will need to handle the loss in an appropriate way so that it doesn’t become a devastating event in their life. An event is certainly tragic, and then a person can slowly move on to become more hopeful and trustful that there is a heaven, and they will be reunited with their loved one again some day. But if the person still feels devastated, or their life turned for the worse since that event, that person is seriously experiencing depression and is in need of help. There are very awefully hard events that occur in life, and I bet there are more events that call for “psychological check up” than what people are willing to admit.

    Prayer works, but is affected by our psychological well being. Our mental health relies on us making sure we have appropriate resources for both our spiritual and psychological needs. Otherwise, tragic and dark events become devastating ones.


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