by Annette Bridges. ©2010. All rights reserved.
I don’t presume to know the answer to this question in regard to the earthquake in Haiti as some people have claimed.
“Jesus never prayed to know if God were willing that a man should live” are words written by Mary Baker Eddy, which I heard read during this past Sunday’s Lesson Sermon. Every time disaster strikes, there will be those that conclude God’s will is at work. I can’t explain why tragedy falls prey to some and not others, but I could never believe that God’s will for His children is pain and suffering.
When multitudes gathered before Jesus, he didn’t know the history or plight of all who gathered. There was no discussion with his disciples about who was worthy or not worthy of being saved. He prayed for everyone. He loved everyone. And he healed everyone who came to him for healing.
Surely this was true because Jesus knew our Father-Mother God loves and cares for everyone impartially and unconditionally.
When sadly hearing the news about the horrific earthquake in Haiti, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a survivor’s story who experienced the tsunami in Sri Lanka. Her story is one I often think about and have shared with others many times. The question of whether or not it was God’s will that she be faced with a tsunami is not what came to her mind.
She was in Sri Lanka for the wedding of her niece, along with other family members and friends. They were having breakfast in their beach hotel when the monstrous wall-high waves hit. She spoke of not knowing how to swim and being crushed by furniture and other debris as she reached out for something to save her.
But the first thought that came to her as she tumbled in the water was the Psalmist’s words “I shall not die, but live.” (Psalms 118:17)
More thoughts came to her, some giving her direction such as “Cycle … paddle … use your legs.” She thought of Jesus calming a storm on the sea with those powerful three words, “Peace, be still.” (Mark 4:39) And also the words, “Know that God is here.” And again that declaration, “I shall not die, but live.”
I was comforted that in her extreme peril, she received what she described as “angel thoughts.” Mary Baker Eddy’s words, “These angels deliver us from the depths” suddenly seemed poignantly true.
Hearing about this survivor’s story taught me that perhaps it’s not necessary to try to explain why bad things happen, where evil comes from or whether or not it is God’s will. I thought if she could survive a tsunami of that proportion, what could I not survive, endure or overcome? So perhaps even against all odds, any of us could be victorious, saved or healed.
This tsunami survivor example has given me encouragement to meet disaster or catastrophe in life. Maybe you, too, will be encouraged to find answers for overcoming your own catastrophes.
Clearly, this dear woman believed she could turn to God to help in her time of crisis. She must have known God not as a destroyer but as Creator — as a protector and preserver of humanity and as a God of love. The book of I Kings says God is not in the wind, earthquake or fire. God is the “still small voice” that is present no matter how dire the situation. (I Kings 19:11-12)
Perhaps such knowledge and faith could help any of us when faced with a crisis. You and I may never encounter a tsunami or experience an earthquake, but how do we contend with whatever we may be facing — extreme debt, divorce, unemployment, injury, illness?
Do we give up? Do we believe there is no hope? Do we resolve to a life of chance, vulnerability and uncertainty? The inspiration I gained from one woman’s victory over a formidable foe has strengthened my confidence and trust in the mightiest power of all — the Divine.
While we all may face struggles and hardships that at times bring us to our knees, we can be assured that the “still small voice” will be with us, will lift us up and guide us onward and upward to a new day — to solutions, freedom, peace, comfort, healing.
May we too have the strength and faith to look at adversities and proclaim, “I shall not die, but live.” Surely this is God’s will for His beloved children!