January 12, 2024
Today is the 14th anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti that killed as many as 300,000. I was rereading some statistical information about the event and the days following, and it suddenly hit me that statistics are really the only way I can even begin to fathom that kind of horror and suffering. I don’t know exactly where the line is, and it probably depends on both the person and the situation, but statistics help us to speak the truth without really experiencing the truth. It is a buffer of sorts by which we can shake our heads and say, “Oh my! 300,000 dead. It is hard to imagine.” Sometimes we need to view an event from 30,000 feet in an attempt to understand the extent and gravity of what has occurred. At the same time, the human heart cannot remain at 30,000 feet, and we suddenly find ourselves reading a story about a young child whose parents were killed in the earthquake or another situation where the parents returned home to find that everything had collapsed, and for a few hours, they could hear their children crying under the rubble. In those moments, it’s not that we forget about the immensity of loss. Instead, we find ourselves focusing on the lives of individuals. It’s there that true compassion takes hold, and though it is hard to fathom 300,000 deaths, we can ache and pray for that child or that family. It’s a touchpoint for what would otherwise be described only in terms of a quantitative number to be analyzed. As I think about my faith, I believe I’m called to move between those two—to see the larger picture that should never be lost upon us, while also understanding some of the specifics that are often hidden in statistical information.
Your love, O Lord, is concerned about the world, but I do not believe you are only concerned about an overarching perspective of a vague concept. The vision I see in Jesus is of a love that knows the concerns of every person and is seeking to respond to those individual concerns with care that is relevant to the uniqueness of every person and every situation. I believe you are that God, and so I say, thank you! Amen.
Rev. Bruce Frogge