Last year, my husband and I went to see “The Impossible.” It’s a movie, based on a true story, that follows a single family in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. It was an intense yet inspiring movie, as the way each family member survived and reunited was nothing short of miraculous. At the end, however, both my husband and I had the same response. “What about everyone else?”
We both clearly remembered the tsunami; we were in India at the time. Whole regions along the coast where my husband grew up (Chennai) were devastated by the surging waves. Over 220,000 people died, making it one of the most tragic earthquakes/tsunamis in history. Deaths were reported as far away as 5,000 miles from the quake’s epicenter. I guess after a movie that portrayed such an intense happening, we had expected some sort of reference to the many lives that were lost, a remembrance of those who were not reunited with their loved ones, those who didn’t have a home to return to. Without that, something was missing from the movie.
On Friday, Typhoon Haiyan slammed onto the shores of the Philippines, leveling entire villages and leaving tens of thousands of people dead or unaccounted for. Many communities have not yet even been reached, so the total number of lives lost could be far higher than originally estimated.
After a certain number, things start to blur. We have a hard time comprehending just how much a thousand is. Ten thousand. Twenty. It easily becomes a mere statistic. We gloss over it and say, “What a tragedy” and go back to our lives. But for that incomprehensible number of people, life will never be the same. Even now, survivors are starving, struggling to find water that won’t leave them with dysentery, stumbling over the ruins of their homes, hoping against hope to find their missing family members.
What if that was me? What would I want? What would I be hoping for, praying for?
Definitely, that I wouldn’t be forgotten, overlooked. That it wouldn’t be seen as just another sad story in the news while people go on to making their plans for the holidays, people with their homes, lives, and families intact.
What can be done in the aftermath of such a tragedy? A lot.
Look up relief organizations and see what you can do to help. Consider, instead of spending as much on Christmas gifts this year, making a donation towards relief efforts. Your friends and family will understand; maybe you could all do it together.
Remember. Remember that after things get “back to normal” for many, they will never be completely normal again for thousands of people. It will take not weeks, not months, but years to rebuild after such complete devastation. And even after that, the loss of a family member or friend leaves a hole in someone’s heart that lasts a lifetime.
And pray. Pray for the comfort and healing of those whose lives and homes have been torn apart. Pray for the strength and wisdom of relief workers. Pray that more people will seek to help in some way. Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to
Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there
will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship
will be our sweet portion there.
[Photo used from “All Voices: After Haiyan“]