FAMILY MATTERS| Even then, Lord

TWO days before the celebration of the awaited Christmas Eve, when peoples’ minds were focused on festivities and family gatherings, disaster came like a thief in the night in Davao City and other places in Mindanao. In Davao City, rain was sparse, but the rivers suddenly rose and swollen, flooding villages and trapping people because of typhoon Vinta. Some had to climb the roofs to save their lives as water rose without warning that evening. The authorities and good hearted individuals scrambled to help the victims, the next morning, NCCC mall caught fire at midmorning along McArthur Highway in Matina. This writer lives just a block away from the mall and sirens could be heard from ambulances and fire trucks endlessly until the next day. For two days, we helplessly saw the raging fire from where we reside. Thirty eight people were trapped inside, as people and the loved ones of the victims were around the mall, restlessly praying for their safety. We saw some men made it to the roof top above the fourth floor as viewers frantically tried to coach them to climb down to the advertising steel posts jutting out, until they were rescued one by one using cranes. Every minute during the entire unfortunate event was agonizing as everyone waited the unabated fire and billowing smoke to settle down.

The next day, still the fire raging, the president of the country himself announced with heavy heart after staying with the relatives of the victims for long hours in the evening that there was a zero chance for the victims to survive as the roof started to cave in and parts of walls collapsed. The sadness could be felt throughout the city. Even the firefighters bravely did their duties to put off the flames, sleepless after coming from rescuing flood victims the previous night. Many families gathered as usual on Christmas Eve, and some chose to gather simply, with the victims of flood and fire in mind.

Maybe, some would ask where God is in tragedies like these. We know that many among the victims of the fire and flood were faithful Christians, and still they were not spared. I wish we have all the answers to these nagging questions but many times God prefers to be silent. We may not understand but God may speak in tragedies and sorrows. Our hearts are heavy and grieving. If we listen to shouts and accusations they will all the more fan the flame of doubt. But maybe, in quietness and trust, one day, God will reveal His plan.

In Lamentation 3:19-24

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.20 I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

“For if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant loving kindness. For He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men .”

V. 32-33

With this, we bow our heads and trust . Together, we have hope that as we approach another year, 2018, we can say, “Even then, Lord.”

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