By Deborah A. Hoy (Jones), M.D, M.Div.
John 6:18-19a A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; NIV
In January of 2010, a devastating earthquake arrived in Haiti and crumbled the capital city and countryside. It was truly a strong wind that continued to blow over Haiti the next several days. Immediately a small country that had been suffering in silence suddenly had their voices lifted in a sound that traveled around the world, an incredible sound that could not be missed or denied.
The sound heard resonated in the hearts of believers and non-believers alike. What the Haitians had experienced was both a deadly and forever life changing blow. Many died, many were maimed, many were lost to family, and even more lost all that they had. Although one would expect bitterness, doubt, disappointment, and a great sadness, when we drew near to the people who remained we heard praise, rejoicing, thankfulness to God, and a tremendous sense of peace that surpasses all understanding. Wow!
The resiliency of the Haitian people is what draws you close to them and even closer to God. With amazement you watch people who have lost possessions but whose faith is unbelievably strong and strengthening as time continues to pass. A desire rises up in those who heard the incredible sound within initially believing that it was a desire to be helpful to a people whose country lay in ruins only to find that the desire was your spirit being drawn to the very presence of God. God’s presence was evident by incomprehensible peace among the people and the awe inspiring confidence Haitians displayed knowing that God heard them and would come to rescue them.
God’s presence showed on the faces of the adults as they lived in expectation that things would be better than before the earthquake.
God’s presence was evident by how the children were able to play and laugh even if they were missing limbs and loved ones.
The miracle of God’s presence caused people from every walk of life, every continent, race, creed, color, gender, and faith tradition to work tirelessly in unity and harmony to show love to their neighbors, the Haitians. Truly ‘ L’Union fait La Force’ ‘Unity Makes Strength’ (motto of Haiti) was revealed as the collective workforce rebuilt areas, distributed food and water, and gave medical care to thousands far beyond what they could have accomplished alone.
It is this presence of God, a blessed assurance that drew the volunteers to Haiti in record numbers because in actuality we were drawn by God.
The disciples depicted in the scripture were on their way to the other side of the lake. Many were fishermen so they were familiar with this lake. They were doing and going to places to which they were familiar much like the Haitians who were doing and going about their usual activities. A storm interrupted the disciples’ progress, and in fact it brought them to a halt, just like the earthquake that struck Haiti brought their activities to a halt. But then Jesus arrived, walking on water showing them that nothing can separate them from the love of God. No obstacle is too great for God to handle. Nothing can keep God from providing for the God’s people in fact it is impossible for God not to provide. Therefore, God arrived on the scene and provided the help the people needed through the many vessels God personally summoned to Haiti, me included.
Whether God allows some things to happen, or they just happen, the result is that we can feel God’s presence. Things happen so that we can realize that God is always with us and always very concerned about us. In fact, sometimes things unfold so we learn to trust in God and stop trusting in ourselves only. Other things happen so that we might get a glimpse of God’s intent for our lives: living together in harmony, being concerned about each other, and willing to sacrifice for one another. These things take place so that we will use the gifts we have been given to be instruments of God’s compassion and mercy, and a reflection of God’s unconditional love.
As we reflect upon the incident in Haiti, the Haitian people, and the outpouring of love, we find ourselves moved to praise God and offer sincere thanksgiving to our Almighty God who is always thinking about us. We are humbled by the Haitians’ faith, intrigued by their trust in God, and inspired by their unshakable belief in God.
This experience reminds us that truly it is time to believe in what God says. It is time to believe in God’s promises. It is time to believe that the Haitians will recover and be great. It is time to believe that the little we do to help will be turned into much as the people are restored. It is time to believe that infants don’t have to die and infections don’t have to be terminal.
It is time to believe that people from different backgrounds, races, cultures, and faith traditions can live in harmony outside of catastrophes.
It is time to believe that all of our gifts and talents are worthy to be used to bless others. It is time to believe that we can really go forward not held back by our past or present circumstances. It is time to believe that nothing is impossible with God. Therefore, let us join the Haitians and rejoice!
“The miracle of God’s presence caused people from every walk of life, every continent, race, creed, color, gender, and faith tradition to work tirelessly in unity and harmony to show love to their neighbors, the Haitians. Truly ‘ L’Union fait La Force’ ‘Unity Makes Strength’ (motto of Haiti) was revealed.”
Deborah A. Hoy serves as the Assistant Pastor of the Beloved Community Church directing Christian Education and Missions. In addition, she is a board certified neonatologist and pediatrician blessed to work at Georgetown University Hospital caring for sick full term and premature infants. She has the opportunity to minister to patients and families as they navigate a tumultuous time in their lives.