Finding Christ in The Earthquake : A Mom's Thoughts on Haiti
Reposted from my blog, "Did children die in the earthquake?" my seven-year-old daughter Tabitha asked gravely when I told my children the devastating news. "Yes," I said. She hung her head. "Will the earthquake come to Japan?" asked Aiden, age six, concerned. "Not this one," I replied. "But there are earthquakes in Japan, right?" Aiden pressed. "Yes. Sometimes there are," I answered honestly. "Remember the one we had last summer?" He nodded. It was a small one in comparison, but it left us quite shaken. Talking to my children about January 12th's earthquake in Haiti was an important but heart-wrenching conversation. With death toll estimates between 50,000 to 100,000, it is even hard for grown-ups to fathom the loss of life. Why did it happen? Like most adults, my children wanted to know, "Why?" I asked them a question in return. "Why don't we live in a perfect world?" The answer is one they can recite off the tops of their heads, but it's easy to forget in situations like these. It bears repeating. A long time ago, God did create a perfect world. When God was finished with creating the Earth, He was satisfied with His handiwork. He said it was very good. Delicious food was readily available. Adam and Eve were perfectly made for each other. Humans co-existed with wild animals. Childbirth didn't hurt. There was no death. There was no shame. There was no suffering. There was only beauty and an intimate relationship with the Creator. Adam and Eve disobeyed the one rule that God gave to them. By their own hands, they picked and and ate fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Everything changed. As humans, created in God's image, we long in our hearts for perfection and purity. People, even those who do not consider themselves to be "religious", see pain and suffering and know deep down that it is not how things are supposed to be. When Jesus, the Great Physician, was on Earth, He performed many miracles. It was as if He was thumbing His nose at the fall and saying, "I am here to restore the Earth to how it was meant to be." People with life-long deformities, illnesses and injuries were made whole. A blind man saw. A lame man walked. After twelve years of incurable hemorrhaging, a bleeding woman got her life back. Leprosy was cured. Peter's severed ear was fixed, good as new. As I have said before, never once did Jesus partially heal someone who came to Him. They were always restored instantly. It was never “take two of these and call me in the morning” or “come back in a month to have your stitches removed.” In a world of quick-fixes, where there is an easy-to-swallow pill for just about any ailment, we have distanced ourselves from the idea that pain and death are real. We think of the "fall of mankind" to be like an ancient fairytale. We forget that we are mankind. We kid ourselves to think that if we just recycle enough plastic, get enough anti-oxidants in our diet and make strong buildings that we can live forever. Natural disasters are especially jarring to us because they poke a hole in our comfort bubbles. They remind us that, as much as we'd like to think so, we are not really in control. That any of us are still alive and breathing after the fall is only by God's grace and mercy. We have a responsibility to help. As Christians, we need to help those in Haiti. We can do this by giving, by praying, and by offering our own time if we are able to go and help on the ground. Helping others, though, goes beyond doing something to create a rewarding warm feeling in the cockles of our hearts. Reaching out to those who are hurting and finding ways to gently restore them - not just in natural disasters, but disasters of the soul such as being caught in a sinful pattern - is a way to claim dominion over the fall. Bearing one another's burdens is a way to show a glimpse of Jesus; of Eden; of Heaven. It was simple example, but this point was driven home to by my friend Debi at All Saints, my home church. God said, "Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field." Whenever Debi pulled up the bracken and weeds from her garden, she would call it "exercising dominion," that is fulfilling one of our purposes as humans, to "fill the earth, and subdue it." We can prepare for disasters. While we cannot prevent natural disasters from happening, we can do our best to ready for them. We are not fatalists. If we feel the earth beginning to rumble, we can have our children move away from windows and crouch down under something to protect them. We can teach our children ahead of time tips for surviving an earthquake. We can build strong buildings - the wise man built his house upon the rock. We can keep a reserve of food and power supplies on hand in case there is an emergency. We can practice stewardship all the while remembering our fragility and that sometimes, even when we do everything right, bad things can and still do happen in this fallen world. We can prepare our hearts. As my children and I read about Haiti's earthquake, we came across the story of the rescue of 11-year-old Anaika Saint Louis, who later died from complications of her injuries. One of the things that brought tears to my eyes and peace to my heart was something Anaika's aunt, Etiana Jean-Baptiste, said during an interview, "[Anaika] said ... 'Bring me a Bible. There is a psalm I like a lot, which is Psalm 23. She spent all her time reading the psalm. She said, 'My God, come help me.'" Anaika trusted in God even while her body was being crushed down by the weight of the rubble. She did not give up hope. She lost her mortal life, and gained an eternal one. Even though she was a child, she thumbed her nose at the effects of the fall by putting her trust in Christ. Just as a flower dies and its seeds live on, Anaika's soul can proclaim in its heavenly body, "O death, where is your victory? Where is your sting?" The Bible says that God "causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." None of us know the day or the hour when our life will be required of us. We have a choice to live in fear of that moment, or live confidently knowing that our souls are secure. As mankind, our bodies are not the only things that suffer the effects of the fall. So do our souls. Yet, God did not leave us stuck under the weight of this rubble. He sent his perfect son as a sacrifice for sins that we can again have the same kind of fellowship with Him that Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden. When I read Anaika's favorite Psalm, there was something particularly chilling about it that tied everything together for me. It is the message that was amplified in Anaika's life and death. It is the message that lives on past the grave. We can honor Anaika by realizing what she held fast to even in her dying moments: Jesus restores souls.
Psalm 23 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

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