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190http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2014/04/RabbiLyonsBlog-04_25_2014
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 04_25_2014
04/25/2014 11:35 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
April 25, 2014

 

“There but for the grace of God, go I.” Dating to the 16th century, it’s a phrase that suits all of us when we seek a way to explain the near-miss, the sudden turn, or the lucky break that spares our very life. In other words, “It could’ve been me, but it wasn’t.” Not this time.

                Over the last few weeks, we’ve all watched the news about flight MH370, and in recent days, the tragic capsizing of the ferry boat in South Korea. The horror is unimaginable. Personally, I can’t quantify the wholesale loss of a plane filled with over 250 people, and the destruction of young lives at the hands of an irresponsible captain and unqualified shipmate. Pastorally, I know that it’s a time for which there are no words; only a secure embrace to remind grievous mourners that the same world that shifted against them still supports them. Personally, I know that none of the people whose lives were lost did anything out of the ordinary before they faced their ill-fated circumstances. A plane flight is still the safest form of transportation in the world. A ferry boat is a vessel that even the most un-seaworthy among us wouldn’t hesitate to board. The victims did nothing that any of us wouldn’t have done, too. “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

                In a global world connected on-line, we are privy to the entire world at its best and its worst 24-hours a day. The cascading amount of information is overwhelming. When we watch hours of streaming video about world disasters, we tend to exaggerate the probability of these events ever occurring even by human error. Thousands more die every day in automobile accidents, and for some reason we don’t flinch at the scene; rather we slow down to get a better look. The difference is the enormity of the tragedies we witnessed when the plane went missing (rarest of all events) and the ferry capsized. When we subtract exaggerated probabilities, we can begin to examine the tragedy, itself, and the sheer loss of life.

                The disappearance of flight MH370, with absolutely no explanation, is beyond comprehension. It took four years for authorities to find the Air France flight that went down into the Atlantic Ocean. I hope that MH370 will be found before too long and with it some consolation. The hundreds of young people who drowned in the capsized ferry at the hands of negligent seamen was an avoidable catastrophe. The pain that parents and families feel for their loved ones whom they carefully boarded onto the vessel is almost without consolation.

                What, then, is the source of our help? Psalm 121 says, “[Our] help comes from Adonai, Maker of heaven and earth.” In the midst of great loss, we look for a source of unshakable and unquenchable strength. “God will not let your foot give way; your Protector will not slumber…God will guard you from all harm, God will guard your soul, your going and coming, now and forever.” The Psalm heals us by assuring us that despite sorrow, loss of innocence, and dismay in a world that sometimes terrifies us, the future will not always be dark and void of light and compassion.

                Let’s pray for those who suffer the loss of loved ones on MH370 and the ferry. And, when we are caused to say, “There but for the grace of God, go I”, let us remember that though the world is filled with pain, it is also filled with compassion.

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