Monday, January 18, 2010

Helpless for Haiti; a Question of Faith

Each morning, I tune into one of the network morning shows to catch up on the news and chatter that the talking heads spill forth. I have it on in the background as I do my makeup. Ever since the news broke about the Haitian earthquake last week, I can’t make it through this routine without tears welling up. Makes it difficult to apply the mascara, you know?

This morning, it was the story of a girl who didn’t know her own age, but couldn’t have been more than sixteen. She was in premature labor at one of the tent camps that have sprung up in the parks of Port-au-Prince. The reporter, who was also a doctor, determined that the baby was in the wrong position to be delivered. An eight hour drama unfolded as the network news team worked to get this girl moved to an Israeli field hospital where a c-section could be performed. She was safely delivered of a 4 lb. baby girl and it is likely that the mother and baby would have perished without the medical care received. Malnourished and underweight, living in these horrific conditions, both of them are certainly not out of the woods yet. How many other mothers and infants will die before this week, this month, this horror ends?

This young mother’s plight was rooted in conditions in Haiti that long pre-dated last week’s earthquake, conditions that are similar to what millions endure around the world on an on-going basis. I’m only echoing the sentiments of others when I say that it takes seeing a Haitian earthquake, an Indonesian tsunami, a hurricane in New Orleans to remind me how blessed I am to live in comfort and safety each day.

Haiti is by no means the only horror unfolding today. More news from Afghanistan was sandwiched between earthquake coverage this morning, and contemplation of the on-going tragedy of conflict there is every bit as disturbing. I am just more immune – feeling hopeless everyday isn’t in my nature and I tune out the news stories which seem to play on an endless loop each week because it makes me feel helpless.

Throughout this week, news from Haiti has resonated with the faith to which many Haitians hold fast. “It is God’s will that I was saved” is the refrain when someone recounts a rescue. It brings comfort to many to consider it God’s will that 70,000 others (and counting) did not survive and that loved ones are now in a better place. If you think of it like that, then it hardly seems a blessing that one is surviving in the conditions to be endured in the coming months. However, it is in our nature to cling to precious life, no matter how hard the living.

I admire those with such strong faith. I’m not sure I would find the same comfort in those thoughts. In the blogosphere I have followed, with tears falling, the blog of a photographer who just lost her 8 week old son to whooping cough after a harrowing few weeks in the hospital. Each post is filled with her profession of faith, and she is blessed to have the consolation it provides. I would find faith sorely tested, and possibly broken, at such a time.

People like Pat Robertson anger me with their perversion of faith. This man claims to believe in the New Testament God – a loving God, the God of forgiveness and yet he has the gall to suggest that the earthquake is punishment for a supposed “pact with the devil,” a voodoo religious ceremony (yes, it was a religion to those that had faith in it) that occurred over two centuries ago. I don't believe even the vengeful Old Testament God would punish a young Haitian mother and infant, let alone an entire country's population, for the sins of those who probably hadn't even heard of Christ in long-ago days.

Where is God in all of this?  Maybe here...

I was touched this morning watching search teams from the U.S. work alongside teams from China to rescue those still clinging to life in the rubble. In the face of their strength, I feel helpless - but I am not. I just don’t have the commitment of those that are on the ground in Haiti and elsewhere in the world laying it all on the line to make a difference to those in need. I may struggle to understand God, but I know for damn sure there are angels.

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