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Reflecting on God's impact on the Haiti earthquake
By John Florance
Presenter, BBC Leicester

People collecting food at a UN distribution point in Haiti
People collecting food at a UN distribution point in Haiti

Every so often a natural disaster occurs that makes us feel absolutely powerless in the face of the facts.

The earthquake that has wrought such devastation in Haiti is one such.

The human suffering is unimaginable. What needs to be done, and done quickly, apparently almost impossible.

And if you have a belief in an all powerful, all loving God, such disasters immediately raise the question of why He allows such things to happen.

How is it possible to believe in a God of Love in the face of such devastating suffering?

This is a huge question.

Looking for answers

I spoke to the Revd. Chris Oxley of St. Anne's, St. Paul's and St. Augustine's in Leicester.

He said that this was not an armchair debating point, that it represented a real challenge to how we understand God.

A young girl sits beside her injured mother in
Creation involving stuff carries with it fragility and the potential for chaos
Revd. Chris Oxley, Leicester

"Part of the challenge is to say that we are trying to avoid the idea of an all-powerful God who is a kind of Father Christmas who sits there waiting for our requests to come in and then acting or not."

Chris's main point was that God was there in the suffering - a real presence.

"When you talk to people in the front line [aid workers and so on] they often say that they are aware of the presence of God in the midst of all this brokenness and in this mess and chaos.

"Rather than being a remote being, He's there with us… God is in the pain and the brokenness."

I asked Chris why creation is apparently imperfect, allowing disasters, like the earthquake to happen.

Chris said, "I'm not a scientist but as I understand it, if there is to be a physical world with carbon and organic life forms, that world carries with it fire, earthquake, wind and viruses.

"It's the only world that can exist. Creation involving stuff carries with it fragility and the potential for chaos."

Interestingly, Chris said that in the face of such events only a silence, a prayerful silence, is the authentic response.

Bishop Tim has asked churches in the diocese to use the prayer below for Haiti.

Prayer for Haiti

O God, our refuge and strength,

we hold before you the nation and people of Haiti,

and pray for healing in the midst of tragedy and devastation.

Give comfort to the homeless, the bereaved and the suffering,

courage to survivors,

wisdom to those who seek to help,

and light to all who live in the shadow of death.

This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ,

our rock and our salvation. Amen.

Why does God allow natural disasters?
19 Jan 10 |  Magazine
Haiti earthquake: Day by day
24 Jan 10 |  Americas
Country profile: Haiti
17 Oct 12 |  Country profiles
How earthquakes happen
01 Jun 09 |  Science & Environment
Haiti quake: Survivors' stories
28 Jan 10 |  Americas
Presenter profile: John Florance
14 Sep 09 |  TV & Radio


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