Tuesday, 18 December 2018 | 03:15 WIB

When God in the Rubble

National SAR Agency evacuating victims from the ruins of buildings in Palu.

JAKARTA, NNC - While our memories of the devastating earthquake that struck Lombok of West Nusa Tenggara, and the pain of the affected communities have yet to fade away, we were again shocked by the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Palu, Sigi and Donggala, in Central Sulawesi.

Thousands of lives that could be evacuated were then buried en masse. Not to mention the thousands of people who suffer from the loss of material, such as houses, businesses, and other property, which certainly cannot be counted.

All of this clearly shows Indonesia's indescribable pain and sadness in words. Suffering is certainly not only experienced physically, but certainly also mentally which takes a very long time to heal.

Behind the disaster and suffering, of course there are also various questions, why are these disasters constantly invading humans? What guilt has the human done? Are these disasters punishment for human sin?

These questions by the theologian Elisabeth Kulber-Ross in her book "On Death and Dying" (1968), are referred to as the main questions in "boundary situations" or "situations without a solution."

The boundary situation is a situation that shows human shock, frustration, and powerlessness in the face of natural might and omnipotence of the Creator.

 

God's omnipotence and human helplessness

Humans in the modern era with technological advances that are so great, have also shown how great humans are with their intellectual intelligence, super sophisticated aircraft, high-tech warfare, information technology, etc. all of which are amazing.

However, when the earthquake shook and the tsunami devastated human life, which took so many lives, it really portrayed how insignificant they all were compared to the greatness and omnipotence of God.

The greatness of man means nothing when the Almighty affirms His authority through great natural disasters as sovereign rulers over the whole existence of the universe.

Citing Paul Budi Kleden, a young theologian who is now serving in the Vatican, in a paper, "God shook the earth so that people will be jolted from their security. God poured water from the sky, thus eroding human confidence. God shook His sea waves to destroy human pride."

In that way, God addresses and admonishes them on their misguided path, trying to restore them to the true nature of their being as creatures.

That disaster is really not a curse on man for all his arrogant or boastful behavior before all other living things, but it awakens humans about all limitations and helplessness in the center of the universe. For this reason, everything human proud of does not get any meaning in this life.

 

God in the rubble

At the gate of human progress with the advancement of science and technology, actually the human death is carved, with a moment that is always unexpected.

Furthermore, on top of the rubble of buildings that were hit by super-severe natural disasters, it revealed dissonance and limited capacity for human intelligence. Disasters are as if silencing and confronting state authorities in directing their nation to control nature and the environment.

With disasters and human helplessness, they directs humans at one point in life that they can only be dealt with resignation in prayers by affirming themselves from His holy verses to find strength in continuing this life with a steadfast attitude of faith, none other.

When God shows His greatness and power, passes and on the ruined ruins, we can only offer in prayer, "Lord, we are not tired of asking you. If you close your one door, we will squat down, with submissive face and soul, before your other doors."

Just like Chairil Anwar said, "And we also cannot turn away," as an expression of resignation and respect to the Owner of this Universe.

Therefore, it is said by many theologians that all the mysteries of disaster can only be dealt with the power of faith, and the coming of disaster to claim lives can only be accepted with full submission that can lead to strength and happiness.

Having surrendered we remember the family members of victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Sigi, and Donggala, and also those in Lombok some time ago, quoting the French poet,

Don’t cry

My brothers

Also from the rubble,

A sprig of orchid will blossom