Where was God during typhoon Haiyan? – Philippines

13 November 2013

A letter by Robert Samson to the Filipinos

Many people have often asked when tragedy happens or innocent people die and suffer: “Where is God in this moment?”

Then I remember that once there was a Lutheran pastor and theologian. His name was Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was an anti-Nazi dissident who was eventually caught by the Gestapo. He wrote many beautiful writings on the role of Christianity in our secular world which have become greatly important in our secular world – but in one instance, a co-prisoner was incontrollable as they both witnessed a 6-year old child about to be hanged. This prisoner questioned, “But that boy is innocent – where is God in all of this???”

Bonhoeffer turned to him and said, “God is right here – and right there in that image of the boy being put to death.”

I wanted to tell you about this little story – that our All Loving, Almighty God is certainly One who has the power to put an end to many of our problems, but mostly, this is the same God Who watches and continues to love us from where He is, even through the experience of Suffering and Pain. There is always a plan of His Love behind all of these.

Now, that we’ve received the news about the devastation that the typhoon had done passing the Philippines recently leaving thousands and thousands of dead doesn’t mean that God is not anymore with the Filipinos. In fact it is in these moments that GOD is there with us, with you. We just have to find Him again in our hearts…

Humanity has often times asked God, why do we all have to suffer while we’re on earth… answers that some so called experts gave came more of a mystery rather than something concrete that could have helped each one of us ease the pain.

Then I remember something that consoled me when I lost both my mom and dad in a period of 21 days when they died in 2001. I remembered a modern mystic by the name of Chiara Lubich who once said: “There are two secrets in life: Love and Suffering.

Suffering is the way we love God and Love is the way that God loves us.”

Why is it that notwithstanding the great difference of Love and Suffering, they both seemed to be the same? My mind can only murmur that they could be the same because in heaven, Love and Suffering would be both in their perfect state and therefore only Pure Love remains. Suffering is simply gone!!!

So I translated these words this way: “God could have saved the world in a million ways, with a breath, a gaze, a smile, a gesture, a word, no, He had to send us His Son to save us, saving us meant He had to suffer and die for us.

If God used Suffering and Death as a means for our Salvation, meant that Suffering is really an important part of life: human and divine, perhaps because suffering here on earth would mean the highest peak of Love that God can love us.”

When Jesus was on the cross and shouted gasping for breath: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, He gave us His maximum Love. It is in the peak of suffering that Jesus loved us most. Together with Jesus, we can try to transform this suffering into love for neighbour.

Filipino brothers, sisters and friends, let’s always remember, we are never alone. In these impossible, difficult moments are where God is more present. Our family and friends are present. Hope is present. I’m there with you, most especially in the most difficult moments you’ll encounter.

My love and prayers goes to each one of you and your families.

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