Distracted Cicadas and Industrious Ants
But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
(Job 2:10 NKJV)
Do you know the story of the cicada and the ant? It came back to my memory as I tried to reflect on the week that just ended. While our country is being "cicadized" by the oldest singing event, raising the usual fuss of criticism and commentary from engulfing shows and television, from another part of the world an army of hard-working ants is moving piles of rubble in the haunted echo of doubts of those chilled out who have no music in their hearts. In fact, every time a natural disaster strikes, a good load of doubts also arrives in the face of the tragedy of innocent victims. Thus one finds it tremendously hard to believe in the goodness of an all-powerful and merciful God who stands by and watches immense tragedies like this.
The latest one in chronological order is that of the earthquake that devastated parts of Turkey and Syria in the night between last Sunday and Monday, an apocalypse likened to a hundred times the atomic bomb fell on the sleep of thousands of people who were already facing a hardship existence. This time it hit a wide region that could be called the cradle of Christianity. These are the places where Paul of Tarsus preached (Tarsus is one of the cities affected) and where the word "Christians" first appeared. Razed to the ground is the city of Antioch, where the first Christians gathered. Even the synagogue is no more, and the scrolls containing the Scriptures have gone up in flames, with their 2,500 years of history. The terrible death toll keeps rising, and I personally think we will never get the final figures. If the emergency now is to save the survivors, these are events beyond our control.
So much, too much heartbreak in Turkey, and in Syria, already slaughtered by war, to be able to keep our eyes on the pictures. I had, and still have, great difficulty watching the television reports showing the crumpling of huge skyscrapers, reduced to a pile of rubble under which dead, wounded and a few unharmed. It is an unbearable pain to consider that creation, so exalted in Genesis, suddenly becomes cruel by spreading death and reaping innocents. If when God called into existence all was good, with the arrival of sin unfortunately the harmony between man and nature was broken. We all know that the planet we inhabit is alive and moving not only in space but also in its underbelly. The plates that form the continents move and sometimes collide, generating earthquakes. We do not know when, but it happens without us being able to do anything to prevent it. We could, however, limit the damage by correcting part of our behaviors and painful habits of raping the territories with the culture of building speculation and unbridled urbanization.
The tragic events faced by a God-fearing man such as Job offer us a faith reading of what is happening in our existences. In the presence of a man sitting among the ashes and reduced by illness to scratching himself with a shard, Job's wife does not hesitate to throw the truth of the moment at him and say, "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (v. 9). This is the justifiable reaction of those who have no eyes for God. If you are trying to understand, stop it! There is no answer to such suffering. And Job knows this and retorts to his wife, "If we accept good from God, why should we not also accept evil?" If we really want to pay tribute to the Creator for the evil of which we are the victims, who are we to syndicate or opine on His action. After all, Paul was reminded, "My grace is sufficient for you". Job's example assured us that his foolish behavior was acceptable since he "did not sin". I personally have only this hope, which we see confusingly today, as in a mirror, but one day we will see "face to face." We should in the tiring days follow the example of the ants, who do not lose heart or lose heart, but together strive for good and the survival of the anthill.
Close to those who are working against time, clinging to a faint hope, from the heartbroken heart the thought runs to those who have lost one or more loved ones, those who are left alone, those who will find themselves orphans, those who have lost everything because what they had built has turned to ashes. And the thought is not enough. I take up and share, among others, the invitation addressed by the Fcei (Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy) that in today's worship we devote "a specific moment to remembering the victims and praying that the Lord will help individuals and peoples tried by such a great tragedy to find the material resources and the physical and spiritual energies to bring relief and, in time, to start a process of reconstruction whose outcome also depends on our commitment and generosity". While "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now" (Romans 8:22), in the face of the heartbreak in this part of the world we can join in and help in some way, if only through prayer: even if we do not understand why there is so much pain, we know that He is the one, true Comforter.
Weekly Bible Reading
February 13, Leviticus 14; Matthew 26:51-75
February 14, Leviticus 15-16; Matthew 27:1-26
February 15, Leviticus 17-18; Matthew 27:27-50
February 16, Leviticus 19-20; Matthew 27:51-66
February 17, Leviticus 21-22; Matthew 28
February 18, Leviticus 23-24; Mark 1:1-22
February 19, Leviticus 25; Mark 1:23-45