cha·os noun /ˈkāäs/
complete confusion and disorder : a state in which behavior and events are not controlled by anything
Confusion and disorder were some of the many words coming to mind this past week as I read the tragic headlines coming out of Nairobi, Kenya. The Westgate shopping mall was sieged by militants from the radical group al-Shabaab, resulting in dozens of deaths and leaving at least 170 injured. The firsthand accounts that have emerged are absolutely chilling and paint a picture of utter chaos. As the attack finally comes to end, the process of grieving will undoubtedly begin.
Following such an evil act, I find myself looking for answers to make sense of it all. Why? What was the motivation? How can this happen despite all the technology and surveillance and security measures available to us in the 21st century? Was this preventable? Although I was not affected personally by the attack, it is heart wrenching to see such senseless violence carried out against innocent people.
Thankfully there have been no mass shootings in Haiti recently on par with what happened in Nairobi this past week. However even this week, I have asked some of these same difficult questions as I learned of tragedies here related to sickness, injustice and spiritual warfare. It seems that both at a collective (macro) and personal (micro) level, chaos is very present.
So how can we deal with and respond to and overcome tragedy and pain and confusion and unanswered questions and heartache and darkness in our world?
The natural solution to darkness is light and I love how God uses this imagery throughout His redemptive story, beginning with creation.
The first two verses of the book of Genesis read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
Our pastor in Haiti has been teaching on this theme of light and explained recently that the Hebrew word translated as formless in this passage actually means chaos. In the beginning the earth was in chaos.
And what was God’s answer to chaos? Light.
Verses three and four say, “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.”
Light brought form and stability and hope and goodness into a previously dark and chaotic place.
And this light and its life giving nature is available to us today through Jesus Christ.
Jesus said himself, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
So how can we deal with and respond to and overcome the difficulties and darkness in our world? By turning to the author of life, the only one who can bring light to chaos.
Do questions and uncertainties remain? Yes.
Does pain and grief disappear immediately? No.
Honestly I still struggle with trying to understand tragedies like Westgate and also the everyday tragedies that we hear of in Haiti. However I take comfort in knowing that there is an answer to all the chaos.
Note: I should say that thankfully, all World Concern staff members in Nairobi have been accounted for and are safe. This is certainly a difficult time for many people in Nairobi, but as our friend and colleague Kelly Ranck who is based in Nairobi recently wrote in a beautiful blog post, “Kenya will rise again!” I encourage you to read more by clicking here.