Four years ago, I sat in the adjustable bed in the first-rate hospital in Singapore, holding my newborn and reading the story in the newspaper that the nurse brought. A mother, in the midst of a cyclone in Myanmar that killed 78,000 people, had given birth by herself. On her dirt floor. While a storm raged outside.
And I cried for her. For her pain, her loneliness, her fear.
Then two years later, very early pregnant with my second baby, I heard about Haiti’s earthquake and the 220,000 dead. And I wept. For the people lost in the wreckage, and those left to grieve their empty arms.
The tragedies seem to hit when I’m pregnant or just had a baby. Or at least it feels that way, the loss all the more profound when my body holds new life.
And now with my baby still in my belly, I read news of the tragedy in the Connecticut elementary school. And I hear the fears of my Singaporean taxi drivers that the end of the world is coming. And though it’s sunny here and my kids are laughing, the questions come.
Am I ready to bring a vulnerable little baby into this dying world? Is life worth the risk—no, the certainty—that death will eventually happen? Am I ready for the aching love I will have for yet another child in a world that simply cannot promise safety for eternity? And what of the lives lost? The children gone? How can it be?
Where is the hope when horrible, unspeakable things happen?
And I think of the trite answers to the questions. That everything happens for a reason. That everything will be OK in the end. That what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
And sometimes it doesn’t help. Sure, I’ve seen firsthand how God can use the hard things in our lives to bring about beauty. That life can come from loss, as my friend Heather puts it. That there are happy endings, if not in this world, then certainly in the next.
But I also think God hates it all as much—no, more—than I do. All this dying wasn’t part of His original plan. The evil wasn’t His idea. The sadness was something He wanted to avoid, that He died to eradicate.
My grandma worries about me living in Indonesia. All those earthquakes and tsunamis and terrorists and such, just lurking, ready to kill. But the reality is, it’s not safe anywhere. And death will happen. And pain will come.
Even for my little baby tucked beneath my heart, on the brink of arriving in this world of chaos.
But there is hope. Maybe not really in mankind. Not in technology. Not in wealth or even in democracy or success or security.
There’s hope in faith that good exists. There’s hope in love that happens in the face of evil—even the evil in my own heart. There’s hope in a Person born as a baby into an unsafe, dying world that would someday try to destroy God himself.
And there’s hope when those who are dying can someday live forever.
photo credit, LaserGuided