One of our Brazilian students, Tiago, sent me a video clip from Haiti.

One of our Brazilian students, Tiago, sent me a video clip from Haiti. It was shot by a Brazilian U.N. peacekeeper soldier moments after the 7.0 magnitude quake struck Port-au-Prince a week ago. While I can’t understand the Portuguese voiceover or subtitles, the footage reality transcends all languages. Cement rubble lies strewn in the city street, a thick cloud of dust hovers above the surreal scene, while survivors stumble in a daze, in silence or with tears and screams. As the peacekeeper walks through the mayhem, filming as he proceeds, suddenly into view there is a cathedral, its façade crumbled across the street. But amazingly a giant porcelain crucifix towers toward the sky amidst the strewn debris. Some are gathered on their knees before the hanging Christ, with arms outstretched toward him, pleading in voices loud enough to be heard on the video. And you don’t have to speak Creole to know the content of their prayers. It is a scene you will not quickly forget.(,,MUL1451469-15605,00-VIDEO+MOSTRA+PRIMEIROS+MOMENTOS+DA+TRAGEDIA+NO+HAITI.html)
Where was Christ on that day and these now ten days hence of incomprehensible tragedy and mounting human loss? Is he a porcelain God, unmoved by suffering, even of this magnitude?
The ancient prophet quietly confessed, “In all their affliction, he was afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9). In all our affliction, God is afflicted? It is true—the Eternal One, who emerges from amidst the narratives and nuances of Holy Scripture, is often times perceived by our distressed hearts as deus absconditus, what Martin Luther called “the hidden God.” And those sobbing prayers at the foot of that porcelain crucifix no doubt were directed in their anguish at the “hidden God”—the incomprehensible One who in our suffering can seem so very far away.
But the irony of that dust-choking scene from Haiti is that it portrays a more compelling truth: it is in the midst of our desperate human pain that the cross still towers with hope. For in the face of its Victim, we gaze upon the face of God—the only God in the universe who has entered into our human tragedy and in our affliction continues to be afflicted. How can we know? Because the cross is his own multiple-magnitude sacrifice to purchase the right to one day obliterate evil’s dark and tyrannical rule in Haiti and here. “Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (I Corinthians 15:54).
But until then, in all our affliction, he is afflicted. Or in the words of William Blake, “Till our grief is fled and gone, He doth sit by us and moan.”