Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Coping with disaster

On Christmas Day, 2004, a massive earthquake hit the Indian Ocean and the ensuing tsunamis have killed at least 40,000 persons in India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Sumatra. Seeing the pictures of bodies littering beaches and massive open-air morgues is heartbreaking. Then to hear the head of the United Nations Humanitarian organization criticize the response from Western Countries as "stingy" just sickens me. Click here for story. One of the most corrupt organizations in the world, one that allowed Saddam Hussein to steal millions from the Oil-for-food program, now criticizes the countries giving to help alleviate the suffering in these devestated areas? What Chutzpah!

This isn't a political issue for me though. Disasters like this can easily overwhelm the senses and make it difficult for an individual to comprehend what is going on. Then to have the relief agencies chiding the donors, just reinforces the belief that there are those in power at the UN who are more interested in their own power and issues than they are in the work they are supposed to be performing.

The good news is that while the UN and donor states are calling each other names, private NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) are stepping in and leading the relief efforts. Here is a list of groups helping out with the damage in SE Asia. One group that has a special place in my heart, simply because I am aware of what they do and how they do it is Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, an arm of the Church of the Nazarene. They provide disaster relief as well as local economic development assistance in more than 140 world areas. Click on the link for the latest on their efforts with this disaster.

The world has clearly seen bigger disasters -the eruption of Krakatoa in the 1880's created a sound heard 2900 miles away and killed thousands with the tsunamis it created. The earth is a violent place, but above all we know that God is in control. On days like Christmas, 2004, it may not seem like He is in control. Or it may not seem like he cares very much about us when He lets things like this happen, but we know that he loved us enough to sacrifice his one and only Son so that we might be reconciled to Him and live with him forever. This may not seem like much, sacrificing one for many, but imagine the enormity of that sacrifice:

1) Jesus left the perfection of heaven for the stinking, rotten mess that is our planet.
2) Jesus gave up most of his power to be limited as a human being. He was limited to being in one place, and not knowing all as he did in heaven.
3. Jesus took upon himself sin he did not commit, all of the sin of the world, out of love for us.

Does this make understanding the tsunami any easier? Not really. But it does remind me that God does love us and is not cruel or indifferent. He has a lot invested in us and is hoping for a huge return on his investment.

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