Why people get spiritual after a disaster

People often turn to church after a disaster.

A few weeks ago, a major earthquake rocked ‘Jamdown’, and everybody pretty much lost their minds. For more than a week the opening sentences whenever friends met up was “you did feel the earthquake?” It was a hot topic and an event that sparks some change, albeit most of it temporary, as Jamaicans young and old found themselves in church and switching from soca CDs to gospel with George Nooks’ God Is Standing By on repeat in their vehicles.

Vulnerable as human beings

There is always that momentum or wave of spirituality after a disaster or something close to it. People lit candles, had vigils, played gospel music and were philosophical for days afterwards. And then just like that, they forget all about it, as the memory fades, and they go right back to living their lives as before.

But why do people get spiritual in the first place?

Part of the reason for their behaviour is that disasters and emergencies show us that despite our material possessions and trappings, we are all vulnerable as human beings and that there are certain things money cannot protect us from. No one is immune to an earthquake, the ground shakes the same for everyone – rich or poor, black, white and everyone in between. It reminds us of our mortality, and it is that reminder that makes some people seek God’s presence or at least seek things that give them peace.

An act of God

This house was completely destroyed during an earthquake in Puerto Rico in January.

An emergency is a time of upheaval and uncertainty, and more than anything else, people want to be reassured and have certainty in their lives again. If a disaster hits, people want something solid and familiar, and religion offers something for them to cling to. So, the music, the symbols and their faith are all critical to them finding solace in a time that is challenging emotionally.

People also get spiritual because they seek to make sense out of what has happened as it pertains to God. And if the disaster is ‘an act of God’ like a flood, drought, earthquake, hurricane, etc, they seek answers from him through their pastors or priest or by reading the scriptures themselves, as it is natural to try to find answers when the question is not a scientific but a spiritual one.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of BUZZ or its employees.