Haiti and God

We have all read a great deal about Haiti and more than a few have sent aid to help.  We are proud of our armed service members and numerous aid workers rushing into the devastated country to make a difference.  A retried General is urging our state to take the lead in bringing in refugees and more than a few Americans are now trying to adopt Haitian orphans.  We suppose that that is all that can be done.  We will continue to pray but mainly focus back in on our own challenges which are many in this day and age.

But how do we reconcile the terrible earthquake with our belief in an all powerful and loving God?  When we see pictures of children being pulled from the rubble, doesn’t it make us wonder “why?”.  Do we feel guilty for thinking it and try to push the thought out of our minds?  Is this what God wants us to do?  Or is Pat Robertson right that God is “paying the Haitians back” for making a “deal with the devil”?

Let me tend to the last question I asked first.  Jesus himself refutes the theology of Robertson when in the Gospel of Luke he asks if people think that a tower fell on people (a local tragedy in his time) because of the people’s unrighteousness.  He clearly says it did not.  People like Robertson are in league with the poor theologians (I am being generous) who said Katrina hit New Orleans due to the city’s immorality.  The blame the victim theology has been around since the earliest days.  Wasn’t it espoused even when Christ was hanging on the cross?  Nevertheless, it doesn’t make it easy to hear – then or now.

The key question in any tragedy is not why (which beyond the answers science can provide, we will probably never know in this lifetime) but what.  What are we called to do?  If there was ever a time to ask “what would Jesus do?” it is after these epic disasters of our lifetime.  I have a friend who is an Adventist pastor from St. Lucia in the Caribbean.  He said, “I don’t waste any time praying for hurricanes not to hit our island.  I pray for the people and how they respond.”

I don’t think we should ever feel guilty for asking why.  Jesus himself asked why in the Garden of Gethsemane.  It is a natural human response.  Nevertheless, why questions often times don’t have answers (or ones that we will ever all agree upon).  But Jesus acted after asking why and so should we.

Today, Parkway is still hosting, five years after Katrina, Christians from all over the country who are helping us to rebuild.  It is my prayer that five years from now, Haiti will still be not only in our minds and prayers but also a part of our actions.  The people of that island that felt so much devastation will need it.

That is how God’s people are called to respond.

All the best,

Tom

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2 thoughts on “Haiti and God

  1. Tom, very thoughtful post. Thank you. You were kinder to Robertson than I as I diagnosed him with a recurring “Foot in Mouth” Disorder.

    Years ago when the WWJD fad hit full force, a Methodist pastor friend of mine said that this was bad theology. He believes the better question is, ‘What is Jesus doing?’ esp. if we truly beleive the Church is the continuing presence of Christ in and to the world.

    Although, shocked by men of God who after every natural disaster seem to want to say that this is God’s retribution for wickedness (I remember hearing this as a tween at a revival after Hurricane Camille), I am more concerned about good Christan men and women who I am hearing more and more of saying that we need to take care of our own before we take care of the people in Haiti.

    It makes me wonder what it means what we make of Scripture that teaches us that God’s family transcends all the artifical barriers that we build among God’s family . . . I realize it is part of our fallen human nature, but knowing the reason doesn’t make the comments any easier to sallow.

    I am proud that the Church and particular churches, both with smaller and larger memberships, are responding it such remarkable ways. I am sure that this is what my friend meant when he suggested that we replace WWJD with WIJD.

  2. We had much of a similar sermon on Sunday here … and having watched much news footage of Haiti, the first reaction of most of those rescued has been to praise God for their safety. The Sunday after the ‘quake’, many gathered for worship and prayer – regardless of having no churches…. and no food, water, medicine or shelter. Isn’t that a humbling example of real faith?

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