There is a lot being said about the earthquake that occurred in Haiti on television, radio, websites, the blogosphere, and beyond. I am not going to write anything awe inspiring but I do have a few thoughts that I would like to share on the matter.
(1) This is a horrible, sad disaster. Yet I cannot sit in front of the television to watch news about it. In the last decade we have seen events like 9/11, Katrina, the tsunami in the Asia Pacific, and several other earthquakes. These natural disasters are terrible but I am not sure if the human psyche is prepared to be informed about global pain as much as we are in our age. If something happened in India a hundred years ago it took a long time for the rest of us across the world to hear about it. Now we know about it in an instant. This has its benefits, especially because we can bring aid to the victims, but it equally compounds the depression that we as humans have to hear about at a very frequent pace.
(2) As Christians there are several things that can be done. We can pray because it is God who we need the most in such a time. We can go to be part of the relief as I am sure many wonderful Christians are doing. We can contribute finances which are needed for not only the current crisis but also for rebuilding. We cannot save the day though. Let us mourn with those who mourn. Sometimes this is the most appropriate response.
(3) Pat Robertson should be ignored. Yes, as I read one person write, he is a “brother-in-Christ”, but he is that one crazy brother that sometimes you have to let talk aloud to himself. He is no prophet and we are correct as a community of Christians to denounce what he says. But let us not be consumed by him nor should we direct our energy at being outraged as his stupid words. Rather, we should direct our efforts toward positive things that will bring glory to our God.
(4) I hope and pray that when people hear the words of people like Pat Robertson that this is not what they allow to be their perception of Christians. I can guarantee many Christians, globally, will do what they can to make some good come out of this disaster. Let us focus upon these people who let Christ work through them by the Holy Spirit.
(5) We should not deny that God can judge or send a message through natural disasters. Equally, we should avoid speaking on behalf of God on such matters. When so-called prophets declared that God had judged New Orleans via Hurricane Katrina the odd thing is that those who were struck by the storm were not those who party like hedonist on Bourbon Street, but rather the poor, the outcast, those who lived in the part of the city not ready for such an occurrence. If God judges by these means God has the right to do so but I think we should leave it to God to speak for Himself on the Day of Judgement rather than try to speak for him on such matters.
(6) Christians need to think more on this subject of natural disasters. We either have no idea what to say (good) or we want to start talking of the judgment of God (bad, even if it were true). But we never seem to talk about the words of the Apostle Paul when he personifies creation talking about how she “groans” waiting for the redemption of the children of God (Rom. 8:19-22). In other words this curses, dying planet suffers in pain because humans are in the state of sinful fallenness. When God resurrects the righteous and gives us new bodies the earth will be given a “new body” as well. As we will be free from sin, she will be free from sin. She will cease her groaning.
Until that day we must expect that the earth will groan. These things will happen. People will die and suffer.
(7) As far as questions of theodicy are concerned (“How could a good God let this happen?”) there are two responses. There is first the emotional response of suffering and hurting with those who are suffering and hurting. We do not always need to come up with a logical apologetic. Our best apologetic is that which the Word of God displayed when he became incarnate and joined us in this dilemma. Yet second we must acknowledge the above point that our planet is not perfect and this will happen. It is how the earth survives. Even if you do not believe in God you know that without the moving of tectonic plates our existence would not be possible.
(8) Finally, my heart and prayers go out to those who suffer in Haiti and the world. My finite mind cannot comprehend all the suffering. I do not know why God allows it but I do work from this first premise–I believe God is a good God. I do not think God lets anything go to waste. If anyone hurts when humanity hurts it is our heavenly Father. Someday we will know why He allowed certain events in history to occur. Until that day we must be satisfied with the reality that we know Him.