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In the wake of the NZ earthquake, as with other natural disasters, the “Why does God allow it?” and “Why did God not prevent it?” questions have arisen in some of my circles. These questions are not new and are part of the human reaction to traumatic events that range from personal to worldwide in range of impact. They are existential questions that arise from deep places in the soul and a dispassionate and cerebral response that says “God didn’t do this – it was simply the result of a seismic shift under the pressure of two large tectonic plates” does not satisfy the angst that is being expressed. We are suddenly confronted with human vulnerability and finiteness. We are not as in control as we like to think we are. We are invited to make the uncomfortable journey from self-centredness to other-centredness, transcending anxiety to embrace compassion, courage and creation of fresh perspectives.

The why question is helpful when its part of this process. It becomes a paralyzing problem if I remain there and do not engage the continuing journey.

A colleague shared this prayer which seems apt:


Present in the earthquake, as in the fire and the flood,
not as cause but as companion,
God of life and love be with those who are suffering
in and around Christchurch.
Wrap them around with hope
and fill them with courage for the days ahead.

Give comfort to the grieving,
and strengthen those who are waiting,
searching, hoping and helping.

Show us how to be agents of healing,
bringing rebuilding and restoration
where there is brokenness,
when the time is right.
in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Rev Jennie Gordon
Billanook College
A school of the Uniting Church in Australia