Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Counseling survivors of natural disaster

Tom Ascol did a good post on God and natural diaster:
I'd like to add a point. I think some Christians are self-conscious about answering this kind of question, especially from survivors, because they feel morally disqualified. Since they didn't lose any one in a natural disaster, they don't think they have the moral authority to speak to the issue. They don't know what it feels like. 
But I think that's often skewed. Natural humanitarian disasters galvanize public attention because many people die all at once, in one place. Same thing with other humanitarian disasters, like a plane crash, train crash, warfare, 9/11, nuclear meltdown, &c. 
But keep in mind that if the victims hadn't died in the disaster, they were going to die anyway. The main difference is that death is usually spaced out in time and place. Everyone who's alive today will be dead 150 years from now. There's a total turnover. But because it's spread out over time and place, it doesn't have the same immediacy, the same shock value. 
BTW, this is why it's good to stroll through a cemetery every so often. It reminds you of the cumulative effect. Same magnitude. 
Many of us do experience the death of a loved one. When you're younger, it may be a grandparent. If you live long enough, you will outlive your parents. 
We tend to draw artificial distinctions about how people die, then make some deaths worse than others. In the age of modern medicine, it's considered natural for your parents to die of old age, but tragic for your baby or teenager to die of disease. But two hundred years ago, losing most of your children or siblings to childhood illness was natural and expected. 
In that respect, many Christians can relate to survivors of natural disasters.  

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