I've had this recurring, weird thought lately. I hope you'll let me explain, and give me a charitable read.
I sometimes find myself thinking that I miss the earthquake.
There. I said it.
I was pretty horrified by this when I first started having this feeling, but I'm in the middle of three books right now that I think have shed some light for me.
I'm reading Francis Chan's Forgotten God, and yesterday he was talking about how sometimes we have seasons of feeling disconnected from God because of 1) comfort (your life is too safe) and 2) volume (your life is too loud).
Then I'm soaking up John Eldredge's Fathered by God, and he says the reason we love stories like Gladiator, Braveheart, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings so much is because we are in one- an epic adventure with heroic characters, a life-threatening evil encroaching every day, fates hanging in the balance, sacrifice, battles, and beauty. He says we, as image-bearers of God, are wired to love those things because that's the eternal story of our Father, a warrior king if there ever was one, and that we're invited to participate, which our hearts long to do.
Then I start John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life, and he starts talking about how the Christian life should have a "wartime mentality" to it. In wartime, you have unified purpose. You are decisive, sacrificial, singleminded, courageous. In wartime, nobody worries about their hair or if this kitchen needs remodeling. In wartime, nobody complains, and everybody has a purpose, a way of contributing to a vitally important cause.
And then I understood a little of why I felt I "missed the quake".
After the earthquake, we were in immediate danger. I felt desperately needed. I woke up in the morning (not to mention several times each night) with adrenaline pumping, fired up, fully ALIVE, ready to do anything that needed to be done. We were immediately a unified team with those around us, with the singleminded goal of saving lives, protecting families, and defending the school. Risk waited around every corner. I could not think of anything else- not a worry about grading papers, what will I be when I grow up, or what I look like. When did I last eat or shower? Who cares- that is not related to the emergency. 300,000 people died in this city, on my block and in the aisles of my grocery store. Nothing else can be given a brain cell, because this is immediate and this is life or death.
But more than anything, I know I "miss the quake" because in those first days I felt absolutely fully saturated in God's love and provision. I cannot exactly describe this, but I felt tangibly soaked in prayers. God felt thisclose.
One of my best friends went through an absolutely devastating season almost one year ago. Her engagement was called off and she felt depression and betrayal like never before. I asked her about it recently, and her reply has haunted me- she said she would do every minute of it over again because of how intimately she knows God's presence and love right now.
So why do I miss the quake? Isn't that a horrible, offensive thing to say, in light of all the death and continued suffering all around me here in Port-au-Prince? Maybe it is, and I sincerely apologize if so. But what I'm really saying is not that I miss the pain and destruction, but that I miss the life-junk-clearing clarity that comes with emergencies. In those first hours and days, nothing mattered but what really matters- life, death, family, saving, rescuing, praying, loving, serving, relying on God. I felt so alive, and so close to God in my total desperation and horror and need.
Then, as time went on, my life got loud again, and my life got safe again.