Hope in the face of hopelessness… thoughts on Haiti

So, I understand if you read about hope here and wonder if it’s real, or if it’s even relevant in the face of the overwhelming devastation in Haiti. One of my dear friends read yesterday’s post and could not respond or comment because of the “Why?” question in her mind regarding Haiti. I understand. I ask myself the same question every time something bad happens. “WHY???”   And, most times I might appear to be asking the person I’m with, but I’m really asking the question of God. I’m really saying, ‘Why God?”

That might seem arrogant, defiant, or even disrespectful… but that’s my usual and human response. When my mind cannot take in the extent of Haiti’s tragedy so far away, or when something happens in my own life that feels hugely unfair, painful, without cause or purpose, my immediate response is to question the leader. In this case, the leader of the universe. But, is that really my place or the position that I should be taking?

Reminds me of biblical Job, and his questions, complaints and protests directed at God. And God’s response was to put him in his place. Job, after the overwhelming sorrow of losing his children and his livelihood and his health, Job was told by God that he had no right to ask ‘Why?’ God proceeded to then ask Job a number of questions that helped Job to see that he couldn’t possibly understand the complex and divine nature and purpose behind the things that happen (not to mention that it wasn’t God that did these things to Job… but he gave permission for them to occur). God basically said that Job would never have an answer, nor did he have the capacity to understand the answer. It was for God to know and Job to trust.

If that sounds like a tough pill to swallow, it is. One that I choke on over and over again.

But, if needing to know “Why?” is stronger than being able to trust and hope… well, then I have a problem. And I will continue to knock up against the horror of things like Haiti without a foundation to sustain me. I’ll break.

Of the hundreds of stories that are pouring out of Haiti, one stands out to me. This is an excerpt of the miraculous story of Anna Zizi, taken from The Sydney Morning Herald;

Everybody is calling it a miracle: an elderly woman was pulled alive and singing from the rubble of Haiti’s  Catholic cathedral on Tuesday, one full week after a killer quake tore the building to the ground.

Rescue workers wept and hugged each other as the woman, caked in debris and dust, was placed on a makeshift stretcher, put on a drip, covered with a heat-conserving wrap and driven by truck to a hospital, witnesses said.

“It was an amazing thing to witness, no one could believe she was still alive,” said Sarah Wilson, of British charity Christian Aid.

Ms Zizi, 69, lies on a stretcher after being pulled from the rubble of the collapsed cathedral.

Ms Zizi, 69, lies on a stretcher after being pulled from the rubble of the collapsed cathedral. Photo: AP

“It seems rescuers were communicating with her and managing to get water to her through a tube. She was singing when she emerged (emphasis mine). Everyone clapped and cheered,” she added.

The woman, Anna Zizi, was rescued by Mexican firefighters about 3.30pm local time, two hours short of a full week after a 7.0-magnitude quake devastated the Haitian capital.

Her rescue gave hope to hundreds of rescue workers still digging for survivors in the ruins of the capital, where the stench of crushed and decomposing corpses filled the air.

Wow! She was singing… I’ve read she was singing a hymn! What kind of woman would do that? What kind of faith must she have? I don’t know if I could do that, or if I would allow my hope to sour and become bitter and resentful towards the one who I thought would take better care of me.

I have no answers to “Why?” I don’t know the reason or purpose, or if there is one? I don’t know if God caused or allowed this to happen or not? And it’s pretty easy to philosophize from the comfort of my ergonomically designed task chair in my warm house, clothed, fed, and relatively healthy.

What I’d like to do is be able to trust a little more. Trust in the outcome. Trust in the compassion of the world. Trust that God really does have a plan even in the midst of all of this turmoil. And like Anna Zizi, I’d like to be able to hang onto the hope that God has it all figured out, somehow, even though I might never understand.

Right there with you.