Unreached Network

Devastation….this is why I weep


I was woken up on Monday by a message from a friend telling me about the earthquake. I disturbed my husband from his sleep and over the next couple of hours it began to sink into our consciousness just the sheer horror of the situation. We contacted some friends with relatives in the effected area and heard that there were some from our church family still under the rubble in different cities in the South East of the country.

And then before they had the chance to be rescued, there was another devastating earthquake causing even more damage; not all have been saved.


The after-shocks, from these two massive earthquakes of 7.6 and 7.9 respectively, were sizeable in their own right. Stuck in the UK, we longed to be in Turkey. Some insightful and empathetic friends guessed our feelings and contacted us sharing in our grief. But our grief can be nothing in comparison to the desperation, confusion and desolation that those who have relatives in the ten cities affected by the earthquakes are likely to be feeling and those themselves caught up directly with the earthquake. There are no words to explain how even I feel let alone those who have lost loved ones. We watched the screams of terror from families of those being extracted from the buildings having lost their lives on the TV and struggled to process it all.


As I read through the book of Ezekiel, my daily readings have taken me to chapter 19. It is a lament (an expression of grief appearing as poems and songs about death, loss, and general suffering). In fact the Bible contains a small book called Lamentations. I have never seen Lamentations quoted on Instagram before but it is definitely being quoted now. In Ezekiel 19 God is not mentioned once; the writer is not trying to understand or give a reason or an answer. He is not trying to blame God or justify the actions of God; he is not asking the hard questions. In this chapter all he is doing is rehearsing the extent of the damage: this is the truth of the situation, this is what is going on.

I tried my own lament but it wasn’t very good. Maybe, however, it helped me to start the process of exchanging my shock with prayer.


For me, prayer is often the process involved in extracting pain from my own heart and laying in the hands of Christ. I can’t and am not expected to try to carry pain myself, and anyway, what good does my emotion achieve? Apart from being able to ‘weep with those who weep’ my emotion achieves absolutely nothing apart. So I discipline myself to turn my emotions into prayer.

Maybe lamenting is helpful with regards to the process involved in facing up to the tragedy and it ensures that those who grieve stay real.

For prayer to be effective, surely it must be at least be located in reality.


According to James, who says that those who pray without faith don’t have the right to expect an answer to prayer, it must also have a component of faith. So can I still believe in a good God? Can I still believe in a God who shows mercy? I wonder how many disasters He actually protects us from.

I register the anger of the Turkish people who ask why buildings have been constructed badly and why the advise of geologists who warn about the dangers of building on fault lines, has been ignored.

I embarked on reading Ezekiel a few weeks ago because I wanted to understand a right response to people’s suffering.

Christ weeps twice in the Gospels. Once at the tomb of Lazarus and once as He descends into Jerusalem to face the cross as He weeps over the future destruction of Jerusalem because of the sins of the people.

What I have learnt is that God weeps for the pain of His people, even when the pain is self-induced.

We may ask then why people have to suffer; why if God is God why doesn’t He stop people from having to suffer. I have some pre-packaged platitudes up my Christian sleeve but will refrain from using them. Ezekiel has helped me as I have read through the terrible chapters predicting the suffering of God’s people. Suffering may be an inevitable experience for those of us who live in, what we Christians, call a fallen world. In many ways it is intrinsic to being human; it is nearly unavoidable and it is highly likely that all of us will experience some form of extreme suffering at some time in our lives. And suffering comes in all shapes and sizes; in all forms and genres. It causes trauma and depression.

Be gentle

I read a beautiful prayer for someone today on a what’s app group I belong to; ‘be gentle with the one who walks with grief’. I will remember. When we go back to Turkiye in five weeks time, I will remember to be gentle with those who walk in grief, and, if they let me, I will try to reassure them that our Shepherd walks with them through the valley of the shadow of death.


Whilst we can only try to raise funds and stay connected to friends in Turkiye our church in Ankara is extremely active. Within a day of the earthquakes teams set off to the affected areas. There are ten cities affected and our church network has now sent teams to eight of them already. Some of our close friends have gone as part of those teams taking supplies of food and blankets. They are sleeping in the vehicles and working through long hours. Please pray for them that they will cope with the traumas that they witness and that they will manage exhausting days and rough living conditions. Our church network will continue to respond to the needs of the people. We have confidence in their response. and would suggest that if you want to help the Turkish people in this tragedy you may respond via the link below.

They are already in-country so their overheads will be minimal and they know how the culture works because our volunteers are largely Turkish. They are familiar with the areas that they are working in. There is also the intention to bring as many as possible to what are being termed as ‘safe cities’, i.e. Istanbul and Ankara. Many of our friends, Turkish and Westerners will be hosting families from the affected areas. I know the volunteers will be unbiased and give to everyone despite faith or particular Turkish grouping. I know also that they will remember to walk gently with those who grieve and they will work with love and compassion.

This post was written by a friend in one of our partner organisations. The original post can be found here

Visit www.catalystnetwork.org/donate to give to Newfrontiers churches responding to the devastation in Turkiye and Syria.