This scene and the other that took place in Myanmar (May 01, 2008) led me to question why did God allow the innocent victims to die. At least 100,000 in Myanmar, and at least 50,000 in Si Chuan. As I kept on pondering, I have to ask why did God give Adam and Eve the free will to choose from the tree of knowledge in the first place. The choice of Adam and Eve implicates the subsequent humankind in their act of sin. Did the cyclone and quake happen as a result of Adam and Eve choice to disobey God? I am inclined to think so. (Rom 5:12 "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned")
The rest of the humankind are implicated in the sins of just a few persons? Yes. The sloppy work of contractors have resulted in the collapse of some buildings. The misuse of land have resulted in floods of great multitude. The emission of CO2 in a few developed countries have resulted in the global warming. But at the same time, the rescue efforts of thousands of rescue teams could control the damage. The efforts of the UN, Red Cross and other humanitarian groups saved the lives of the remaining survivors. Whatever rescue effort that can be done, it could only control or minimize the damage done.
In other words, the negative effects of one single act affects a much more multitude of humanity, and it takes much more than one positive act to counteract the damage. I think that is the situation we are in. But are we alone? No. By sacrificing His Son on the cross for all of us, and by His resurrection, God is showing us that this battle can be won. Jesus Christ's incarnation and resurrection shows that God is standing in solidarity with our suffering. By our free will, the whole of humanity is complicit in the act of sins. But by Jesus' death, all of us are given the chance to turn the tide against the dark force (which is within each and everyone of us). By the death of God's only Son, we have the assurance to continue to hope, and to hold out light in the darkness. For the love of God, we continue to exercise our free will to bring others into the same hope. God cries with us, suffers with us, and marches to victory with all of us.
The question for me now is not so much "why did this happen," but rather, "what can I do now to share my hope with others?" I could think of a few: pray for the afflicted victims, for those still trapped in the rubbles; pray for better infrastructure to be built; comfort those whom we know are affected; contribute financially through World Vision or other organizations; as a church we could hold prayer service for China and Myanmar, and donate imperishable food and clothing to related organization.
Why did God allow this to happen? I don't have the answer. I can only faintly try to glimpse an insight in the fall of Adam and Eve, and being more confident that whatever tragedies we are witnessing now will come to an end. In the meanwhile, each and everyone of us must respond as an ambassador of Christ (that's why we are called Christians).
If one thinks that God allowed these disaster to happen so that the rest of us could ponder about our meaning of life, then I would echo Karl Marx's protest:
Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. (Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right by Karl Marx) http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1843/critique-hpr/intro.htm
Any message which encourages Christians to find comfort in Jesus Christ without engaging the disaster and the traumas of the victims is a form of opium! Any types of message which numbs me to the plight of the afflicted ones is offering a false reality divorced from the tragedy. The struggling and sufferings of the victims are real and intense. The tragedy that strikes China (and the same for Myanmar) calls for all Christians to stand in solidarity with their plight. It calls for Christians to take the initiative to identify with what victims are going through. I pray that their pain would be our pain. May their memory and traumas be part of the memory and traumas of the whole human race, of which we are a part of.
God's sovereignty is not manifested directly in the disaster, it is manifested through the activeness (not passiveness) of Christians' responses to the disaster. We MUST respond. (For my case, I have been praying regularly for them and following the news on this tragedy, crying together with the victims, donating money directly to the victims. I am currently initiating a prayer meeting, with Tim Leary- staff worker from Inter-Varsity, for the Chinese students whom we know.)
What is your own response as a Christian?
May 22, 2008