I’ve caught wind of this idea of “Survivor’s Guilt”: those who were unaffected by the hurricane feel like they should feel guilty, and even pay penance, because of others who lost homes or even lives.
Then there’s the “God in the storm” syndrome: those who were unaffected boldly claiming “God loves me, God blessed me, God saved me!” Which of course begs the obvious follow up question of how God ‘feels’ towards those who were devastated by the hurricane?
The cover of today’s NY Post answers in huge bold letters that read: GOD HATES US. Appalling journalism, on numerous levels, but definitely the logical flipside to many peoples’ God claims.
I do not subscribe to either camp.
I do not feel guilty for being 100% unaffected by Sandy, with the exception of losing four days of paid work. I am aware of the many stories, including my friends, who didn’t get off so easy. I do not feel guilt because my actions have not caused their experience; I have not done anything directly or indirectly to inflict pain and discomfort upon them. I have offered my warm and well stocked home to those friends who were affected, that goes without saying but it was said anyways… And not out of guilt.
As for ‘God in the storm’: I do thank God for all sorts of blessings and provisions, big and small, daily. But as Jesus described God: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:25). I don’t think God has played favorites, abandoning those who suffered at the hands of Sandy and favoring those who went unscathed. That’s not how I understand our Almighty to be. God is in all of it, and all of us. God is in the mess, the pain, the loss, the giving, and the hope. Many post-Sandy stories of relief efforts and picking up the pieces have God written all over them. He’s not an elitist. He’s not even a “He”.
I’m here, post-Sandy in the city, wondering at the complexities of it all… with a sneaking suspicion that we’re making it more complicated than it is. Mother Nature had her way, with some more than others. The volunteer response has been tremendous, people have been reminded of the fragility of the homes and lives they have built for themselves, and also of the love and support that cushion their fall. Strangers are drawn together by the unifying experience, to share their stories. And the sun continues to shine on us all…
It’s called life.