Monday, January 18, 2010

The Apocalypse in Haiti

From the photographs and news coverage coming from parts of Haiti, it looks like what has been described as an apocalypse. If there was any truth to the end time scenarios that have been discussed, written about and "interpreted"  from some literal interpretations from the Bible, then this is what an apocalyptic event must look like. It seems to have happened in Haiti. Churches are destroyed and the much loved Archbishop Miot is dead. In one report I read, over 100 priests (I'm not sure if that includes the seminarians) are dead in the rubble as well as nuns, schoolchildren and thousands of innocent, faithful people. That sounds apocalyptic to me. 
I've tried hard not to watch the news, but I can't pull myself away. As disturbing as the news is, I've watched a lot of it. I watched in disbelief the other evening as doctors abandoned patients at a field hospital in Haiti. Apparently, someone gave the order for them to leave, though they didn't want to, but there were concerns for their safety. It was just one more surreal episode. CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta made the noble decision to stay that evening to care for the patients, along with his staff and security people.  Thankfully, the doctors returned in the morning. I was very impressed with Dr. Gupta's decision, that he stayed through the night to care for the patients. I went to sleep that evening wondering if Dr. Gupta would stay, wondering who would care for those desperate people, some of them had just been operated on.  Though I didn't know them, they are all my brothers and sisters in Christ. The Body of Christ is suffering beyond comprehension. There is so much loss and suffering and yet amazingly there are signs of hope, signs of faith. On Sunday morning, people prayed throughout Haiti. Many newspapers, including the New York Times covered stories of the faith of the people. Unshaken faith as one pastor called it. Some Haitians went to pray near their destroyed Churches and they offered praise to God. That's the great thing about having faith, when all else fails, faith can be an anchor, a gift beyond measure. In one account I read, as Food for the Poor, a charitable organization, began to distribute food, people fell to their knees to thank God. Faith amidst ruin and disaster. It's one thing to have deep faith when nothing is seriously wrong, but to maintain faith in such an abysmal situation is courageous.
The faith of the people of Haiti is being tested. Can you blame some people for their anger, disappointment and anguish? I certainly can't. They need our prayers. Can we blame the parents who have lost children for saying, "There is no God." One woman in a fit of anger, threw her Bible into a fire. I pray that someday she can once again read the Bible with openness and faith. These distraught people are not suffering alone, God is suffering too.
The help is arriving, slowly, but the goodness and generosity of caring, good, decent people, throughout the world, is arriving. There is so much goodness in the world and the people of Haiti will soon see an abundance of an outpouring of that goodness, care and concern. 
The demolished Churches will be rebuilt. The homes and businesses will be rebuilt, in time. The Haitian people will rise from the ashes. But for those who have lost loved ones, the pain, the disappointment will linger on. Perhaps in time, they will be able to say (for this I pray), "We don't understand, but we do believe in God and God's mercy." For if we believe in eternal life, then we have to be confident in being with our deceased loved ones again. That is what we profess.

I have called to you, Lord; hasten to help me!
Hear my voice when I cry to you.
Let my prayer arise before you like incense,
the raising of my hands like an evening oblation.   (Ps.141)