It’s been a difficult week not just for the country because of Typhoon “Glenda’s” fury, but for the world as well because of all the killings happening in Gaza. Today, as I write this, 298 lives have just been lost in a senseless tragedy that has all our hearts broken.
As citizens of the world, it really doesn’t matter which nationalities were on board. The heart of the matter is that 298 people died on a plane because, if initial reports are correct, some trigger-happy and paranoid rebel on the ground was too reckless.
Julia Becker, a Christian author who blogs on Christianity Today, says, “It’s way too trite an answer to the world’s problems to say, ‘Don’t worry because God loves us.’ And I continue to really wrestle with evil in the world, and, quite frankly, even more so with the things that happen that aren’t evil and yet are equally tragic. The world is a mess in so many ways.
“But for those of us with faith in Jesus, the call is to let go of the worries that can consume us and turn us in on ourselves and instead seek the kingdom, seek the shalom—the good for the whole community—that God has always promised. So yes, I’m saying, Don’t worry because God loves you. But far more than that, I’m saying, Stop spending all your time worrying and start participating in the work God is doing to heal this world.
“For whatever reason, God has entrusted that work to us. We mess it up a lot. But when we turn away from ourselves and our worries and turn toward others—especially when we do so with a sense of purpose and security from God’s love—that freedom from worry is what enables us to serve.”
Today I’m thinking about those 298 souls who were called back home. I think about all those children now orphaned, the men and women who lost wives, husbands, partners and children.
I think of the 100-plus delegates on their way to the Aids international conference in Melbourne which opens today. Of the pioneer researchers, activists and health workers whose contribution to humanity cannot be measured.
Dropping from the sky
My thoughts go to the middle-age Filipino mother and her two young adult children. Did they have other immediate family members waiting for them in Malaysia, or were there just three of them in this world?
I think of Gaza, and of all the mothers and fathers who have lost children because of bombs dropping from the sky. My heart breaks for all the children maimed, physically, and emotionally because of war.
I think about all the girls who were abducted in Nigeria, and the senseless rape of young girls in India.
I think about Malaysia—a country and people who have lost two jetliners full of people in a span of four months.
I look at the pictograms of the airspace above Ukraine and ask myself why, among all the hundreds of planes, it was MH17 that was hit.
I have no answers.
I find comfort instead in this prayer by Christian writer Ann Voskamp:
“Lord, there are bombs tonight, wars tonight,
planes that have fallen from the sky,
tears that have fallen from the shattered hearts of mothers,
and we fall to our knees before the Wounded Healer who cups His hands to catch every falling tear & sparrow & heart
in His palms that have our names engraved right into Him
far deeper than any of earth’s sorrow.
We pray tonight in the name of Him of who catches everything falling
so we don’t fall apart… so we are held. Amen.”
Trust and believe
I think of all my family and friends who fly, of each one of us who boards planes on a regular basis for work or travel. If we let fear from threats on the ground and in the air get the better of us, we will become paralyzed. And in doing so, we let evil win. What we need to trust and believe is that there is a mighty hand that keeps us safe, who holds us safely, on the ground and in the air, He who knows the number of our days.
Jesuit Father John Joseph Carroll, who passed away this week, was once asked by a student why God allowed so much evil in the world, and the wise Fr. Carroll simply said, “If there’s no evil, there will be no compassion.” For he believed that even if there’s a lot of evil in our midst, we are also blessed with all the tools to counter it, and that it’s simply a matter of harnessing the good that is there.
And so today, though our hearts may be heavy with all the sadness that seems to enfold our world, we’ll manage to find the strength to pray. Hold us, Father, for in a world fraught with evil and danger, I won’t let fear get the better of me, and still choose to believe in compassion, and gratefulness, and love, which is far greater than any evil, and far stronger than death.
Enable us to always find the strength to bring your light and compassion into a world constantly under the threat of darkness. Help us to remember that there never will be a night so dark, where the light of your love and grace cannot break through.