This past week, a Christian friend stated all must have faith; that God brings meaning and order to everything. Reflecting upon my friend’s quote, I think of Faisal bin Ali Jaber. Mr. Ali Jaber looked in horror as drone-fired missiles incinerated his nephew and brother-in-law. And in searching for answers, he traveled from afar to our house of congress. However, no congressman has been able to explain why his relatives were killed, or why the administration is not willing to acknowledge its mistake.
The strike occurred in of August 2012. The deaths drew widespread indignation in Yemen and was documented by The New York Times, along with a number of other strikes that accidentally killed innocent people. I am sure Faisal bin Ali Jaber looked lost in Washington, with members of Congress and staffers darting from one meeting to another. It’s not every day a victim of American drone strikes travels 7,000 miles to Washington to look for answers but received none. And more than likely, as he fell to his knees in August 2012, his prayer of faith remained unanswered.
It’s important to note God remains just as elusive for the Philippine typhoon victims as the holocaust victims, the tsunami victims in Japan and Asia. Christians are not exclusive record holders for unanswered prayer. God remained so elusive for September 11th victims that some joined hands and leaped from the highest floors. Ask any mother who’s lost a child to gun violence and see if God provided answers. Also, ask all Middle East families who’ve been touched by violence if Allah has come forward. In all cases probably not.
Some however ignorantly claim they have an answer. Huckabee and Geraldo Rivera advised the world God was absent in both the perpetrator and the Connecticut school where so many children passed away. Rivera went further, claiming a faith-based man wouldn’t have performed such an evil act. Still, faith-based is not singular, as the perpetrators of September 11th were largely propelled by faith.
Conservative Christians also claim God allow us to have exactly what we want; that we suffer the consequences of independence; that society turned its back on God’s truths. Thus, the resulting pain manifests itself in murder, suicide, drug use, tsunamis,’ earthquakes and a host of other calamities.
Point-to counterpoint, I would love to have any conservative Christian eloquently explain to an eight-year old child staring at the end of a semi-automatic rifle that society’s independence is responsible for their untimely death. Point-to-counterpoint, I would simply request same said Christian explain to a Philippine mother whose two children and husband perished in a massive tidal wave to have faith; God will make all things right.
Regardless of faith, in times of great peril, God remains elusive. I presume neither Faisal bin Ali Jaber nor the Typhoon Haiyan victims haven’t directly heard from God. Yet, perceiving the brevity of pain surrounding us, we continue to close our doors and hope for some form of spiritual control. We pray for it; we believe it and live it.
This Thanksgiving, if we want to help the hurting, we must remember faith is not about believing the world to be other than it is. It’s not about ignoring the evil, the darkness and the pain. It is about courage, endurance and helping those impacted to hold fast to ideals even as they are ignored by others. It is the courage of people to carry on their lives after tragedy. It’s about the resilience of those whose lives have been destroyed, families swept away, homes lost, but determined to rebuild. It’s the goodness and generosity of people all over the world to reach out and help strangers who live far from them, to contribute aid and to pray for them.
Since God remains elusive, anyone of us can become the fulcrum for love. And it is the collective responsibility to mobilize our compassion and ease the pain of the people who have suffered. This is not mere faith, but faith in action.
The real God is within each and every one of us. Be the Church.