December 28, 2004

“I think we have done something wrong and God is punishing us."

There are very few statements like that in the news stories about the tsunami. Here is a story of a Hindu group in Michigan condemning the characterization of the wave as divine retribution. Many prefer to see God's hand in the way some survived, like the baby who floated on a mattress. The willingness to thank and not blame God is sometimes truly astounding:
"I was in the field as a referee. The waves suddenly came in and I was saved by God -- I got caught in the branches of a tree," said Mahmud Azaf, who lost his three children to the tsunami.
An Alabaman man who was on vacation in Phuket when the tsunami hit saw hundreds of dead bodies, but perceived the will of God in the fact he was able to save one child: "That must have been why God let me live this long."

Here is an opinion piece from a Christian minister (Roger Ray) that does a straightforward job of presenting the religious perspective:
There is an account in John's gospel about a time when Jesus and his disciples encountered a man who had been born blind. His disciples asked Jesus why this had happened; was it the man's sin or his parents? Jesus' answer stretches across the boundaries of religions: "Neither this man nor his parents sinned. He was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him."

That is the only perspective on a crisis I ever want to have. God didn't send the earthquake or the tsunami. God didn't cause people to be killed or hundreds of thousands to be left in danger. But this crisis is an opportunity to demonstrate the works of God.

Hindus, Muslims, Catholics and Buddhists are the victims of this natural disaster but this isn't a Hindu, Muslim, Catholic or Buddhist crisis. Persons of all faiths have the opportunity to do a good thing and support one another's efforts.

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