The word rubble was used by the Old Testament prophets to describe what was left of towns that were being overtaken by the enemy. When Nehemiah and the Jews returned to Jerusalem and attempted to rebuild the city walls, they were harassed by Sanballat, an official of a surrounding nation who was angry at the progress they were making. His words were meant to ridicule and discourage them. He shouted, "What are those feeble Jews doing? Can they bring the stones back to life from these heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” (Nehemiah 4:2)
This story came to my mind when I read the news about the birth of a baby girl under the rubble of the earthquake in northern Syria. A 7.8-magnitude quake hit parts of Turkey and Syria on February 6. In the town of Jinderis, Syria, an entire family, except the pregnant mother, was killed when their five-story apartment building came down on top of them. Ten hours after the quake, search and rescue teams heard the sound of a baby crying and dug her out of the rubble. What they found was amazing! Apparently, the baby's mother, Abu Hadija, gave birth to her while conscious and still buried in the rubble. Abu died before rescuers found her. The child was discovered with the umbilical cord still connected to her mother. Destruction and rubble would not stop the birth of this baby.
She was taken to the hospital cold and barely breathing, with her body covered in bumps and bruises. However, she is recovering and has been aptly named Aya, meaning "a sign from God." Indeed, this is a sign from God that new life can come from the rubble around us, whether physical or spiritual. With death and destruction everywhere, God demonstrated His mercy and love in the birth of a child who will be part of the next generation to rebuild life.
Processing great losses such as have occurred in Turkey and Syria is not easy. However, we can be encouraged by the stories of loss and recovery in the Bible. Job is one such story. Job's faith and trust in God was strong throughout an extremely difficult season. He had a proper perspective on the sovereignty of the Lord though in one day, he lost his livestock, his children, and their home. Yet, Scripture says, "At this Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.'" (Job 1:20-21) Job endured more losses and trials until God restored his prosperity and "gave him twice as much as he had before." (Job 42:10)
There is a multitude of people in Turkey and Syria who do not know the Lord. I am sure they are overwhelmed with shock and trauma from all of the death and loss that came with the earthquake. How can we help? Of course, there is a great financial need. There are Christian organizations on the ground in the region now who can use support. Most of us cannot physically travel to the Middle East to help, but we can pray. Our prayers for individuals to get the assistance that they need along with the love of Christ can change lives. Let us remember that God is the God of redemption and that He will use this situation to introduce Himself to those who are lost without Him. Perhaps He has already shown Himself to baby Aya and that one day she will be able to testify to the love of the One True God. Let's pray to that end.
Joan E. Mathias