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Filed under: — jen d @ 12:34 pm

What does one say to the idea–no, to the fact–of 50,000* dead in a moment? When one’s own biggest grief lately has been when to find the time to make holiday returns? Or how to squeeze in an extra half-hour of sleep in the morning? Or the fact that Starbucks has yet to install a drive-through along Route 9 to facilitate the morning commute?

I sicken myself. In my holiday “stress” (please), I hadn’t taken the time to stay abreast of world events. I was late to church Sunday morning, and caught the tail-end of my Pastor’s reminder that, as we closed our first portion of worship with prayer, we ought to pray for this situation in which “these thousands have died.” What thousands? I wondered. I assumed the calamity was Iraq-related. Another offensive. A rebel attack gone awry. Another mistake. “The greatest natural disaster of the millenium” hadn’t crossed my mind. I felt a slight pang of tragedy and prayed quickly and silently for people I didn’t know so as to get back to work preparing the bulletins…

I heard a fuller report from, of all people, some IT technician on my parents’ ISP helpline. I was trying to hook my mom back up to the internet with her new Compaq, and getting more and more frustrated by the minute as the guy on the other end of the line, who ought to have been giving me his undevided attention, kept droning on and on about the horrible news that I hadn’t heard. When it was clear he wouldn’t let it go until he had heard my opinion on the matter, I confessed that I had no idea what he was talking about.

“You mean, you haven’t even heard??? They’re saying it’s up to 44,000 dead. Forty-four THOUSAND.”


And that was yesterday. Joy’s latest gave me an even fuller picture of the deadly tsunamis that have wiped out so-far countless lives over the past few days. But I didn’t truly put my hand to my mouth and feel the tremors of true tragedy until I caught, quite by accident, some of the live footage via online clips from Good Morning America. Because it was through those clips that I saw the waves sweep in and extinguish people who couldn’t be seen, but who could most definitely be heard. Screaming. Agony. Despair. Remember the bodies we saw flying through the air as people jumped from the World Trade Center, rather than face the flames? That’s when something like this becomes all too real to a person. And yet I can’t pretend my grief matches even marginally the caliber of that which the people in these countries–what’s left of them–must be feeling.

Psalm 60:2 You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open;
repair its breaches, for it totters.

People will be blaming God for this. And what does one answer, when it is indeed under His control and sovereignty? But I’m reminded of a passage in Ezekiel that bares the true heart of God:

Ezekiel 33: 11″Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? ‘

Though it speaks to Isreal specifically, we can see that God is not enjoying this display of death and destruction. The greatest tragedy of all is that most likely the majority of those who died, died without knowledge of God. And who’s fault is that? Perhaps the reason I feel guilty for even being alive today rests in my deep heart-knowledge that I am not, by any means, doing anything to assuage the grief that usually accompanies death in this world: that work must be done beforehand. Those however-many-thousands are now beyond reach. The grief in many of their cases is complete and irrevocable.

So, I ought to feel guilty. Not for being unable to fully comprehend or empathize with the sufferers of a natural disaster on the other side of the world. But for being daily so calloused against a world-permeating spiritual disaster that is killing thousands every single day. I am like one of the nine lepers who was cleansed of his disease, only to walk away whole and forget the Agent of healing. I forget daily to praise Him as I ought, and I forget to bring news of his healing powers to those others so desperately in need. I simply go on living. MY life. On MY terms. In MY sins.

Romans 10:14-14But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[a] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? Matthew 28: 19-20 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

* As of the latest news report I read on 12-29-04, the count was up around 77,000 and feared to rise above 100,000.

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