Wednesday, January 13, 2010

God of the Earthquake

Good morning God,

In the book of Kings, it says you were not in earthquake - the people of Haiti will be asking - where were you when the earthquake hit Port-au-Prince?

Were you in the earthquake as the God of wrath envisaged by the prophets, wreaking havoc and death in retribution for sin?

Were you in the earthquake as the Almighty God, the compassionate, the just, who sends the earthquake as a warning to flee from the wrath to come?

Were you in the earthquake as the creator God, bending and shaping the will of the world to your own purposes determined to reverse the contamination of human ignorance and pollution?
Were you in the earthquake at all..?
Or were you in the fires that it started and the wind that it generated?
Were you in the lives that have been lost, in the screams that have been sounded, the tears that have been shed - in the panic and confusion, the dread and despair..
Or are you now in the stillness which has followed as the world holds its breath in order to hear the faint tappings of those buried below mountains of rubble..

Because one thing is certain..
you were not absent, or asleep.

So where were you God?

And where are you now?
What is the good news this day for those scrabbling in the rubble, binding up the broken, or laying out their dead?

We do not have the luxury of saying this was just a 'natural disaster' for, as Wesley says..

what is nature itself, but the art of God, or God’s method of acting in the material world? True philosophy therefore ascribes all to God,…”
But neither do we have the luxury of easy answers for you insist that your ways are not our ways...
And perhaps therein lies the key..
If we stop seeing the happiness of humanity as the be all and end all of your attention and motivation, then the earthquake looks very different.
Making us feel good, giving us what we want, helping us live out our lives is not your primary purpose for being is it God. It's not that you DONT care for each and every life that you have created - you do.. passionately... thankfully, you care enough to not limit your action in the world to that which will ensure something as small as our 'happiness' - rather than the redemption of all humanity.

The good news is - there is more.
Death is not all that there is and surviving is not the most important thing about being alive.
Pain and suffering are not negative in themselves, as you demonstrated so vividly in the cross, they can be a force for creative and constructive change and growth..

You responded to the cry of all of humanity with an earthquake when we had nailed our rejection of life in all its fullness to the cross. You shook Christ's pain, and collapsed his suffering, and buried the hope that he had for the future deep in the earth, buried it under a rock.
And in the silence that followed, you made all things new.

This is still good news - there is more
You promise more than happiness
You promise life in all its fullness...
And then remind us - Behold - I make all things new.

God of the earthquake,
hear our prayer for those in grief and distress
Support and uphold them
and grant them the knowledge and strength of your resurrection power.
Comfort those who mourn
Restore the faith of those who falter
And move the whole world to work to ensure
that life, hope and justice may be salvaged from the rubble.
though it pains us, and grieves us,
continue to use earthquakes wind and fire we pray
to shake us from our complacency,
from our petty self obsessions
until all our pretensions collapse
and we are forced to rebuild the kingdom
According to your directives.


  1. Dear Angela--I stumbled across your blog while searching for something else. Whenever a devastation as awful as the earthquake in Haiti takes place, people ask, "Where was God?" It is asked by those without faith as a challenge to belief. It is asked (and explained) by others as a sign of God's disapproval of our lifestyle. As a lifelong Christian, I respectfully disagree that God was in the earthquake or that He sent the earthquake to shake us out of our complacency. I believe that God made the Heavens and Earth and that the earth is subject to natural disasters. I also believe He gave man free will and that man can be cruel. When I was asked on 9/11 "Where was your God?" I gave the same answer I would give to you regarding Haiti. God was in every firefighter who ran up the stairs of those burning towers. God was in the hundreds of people who waited for hours in line to give the blood that was never needed. In Haiti, God is in my Indonesian Muslim friend, Titi, who despite her cancer, is on the ground in Haiti, helping the sick and injured. God is in all of us and it is Christ's teachings that enable us to live his Word.


  2. Hi Deb,
    I think you misunderstand me slightly - I don't believe in a vengeful or spiteful God - but I don't believe in an absent God either - which means what we call 'natural' disasters must also be a part of God's 'plan'. I have to acknowledge that - even when I don't fully understand it (and I don't!).
    Like you I find God in the response of the people involved, but I'm not so arrogant as to assume that all things work for the good of humankind - for God so loved the WORLD.. and all of creation still groans.. so what we call natural disasters may be a part of the planet's growth and redemption.
    The simple fact is that we don't know - BUT it's important to not air-brush out of our thinking or theology things that we don't like simply because it doesn't give primacy to the life-care of humanity.

    There is nothing 'natural' that happens without God surely?
    And sometimes - just sometimes, its not for us to know - for my ways are not your ways says the Lord.
    At such times - we may be able to display the Christ within us, but it is surely nothing more than human pride and folly to presume everything happens for 'our' sake.
    There is a world of difference between September 11th ( a man made tragedy) and the earthquake - a 'natural' disaster - and I would never equate the two.

    Thanks for your contribution, it's good to know that such work is ongoing.
    God Bless