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.
- 29 Breathtaking Photos Of Hurricane Sandy’s Devastation (buzzfeed.com)
- Soul Surfer: This movie is a drama based on a true story of devastation and overcoming obstacles. A key line in the movie is when Bethany asks her campus minister, “Why did this happen?” And her campus minister honestly responds, “I don’t know.”