Jan 18, 2010

There Are No Victims Here: Haiti

The adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words," is more than just true after seeing firsthand photos of the carnage that has occurred in Haiti. Truthfully, I will admit that my heart wrenched once I first viewed some of the wreckage. Although some of them are graphic in their nature, they are telling of how horrible things are for a large number of Haitians right now. While it is horrible for those that remain amongst the living, it is sobering to consider what it might be like amongst those who are now dead.

I have purposely avoided the media surrounding this event. I have done so that I may avoid the tendency sensationalism that is stirred up when something of such a magnitude occurs. When I first heard the news that an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude had struck the island nation, I immediately asked God to have mercy. But, I did not fall on my face or weep. I should have, and in not doing so I have remembered why this was not my initial reaction to such horrible news. It is hard for us to admit weakness, or need for God's mercy and grace, when we are so detached from the ground zero of suffering. Our nation is truly a nation of comfort, for even when tragedy strikes on our home soil, it still does not impact us for very long.

Let me pose a thought. What if the problem here is not related to Haitian poverty, global warming (or cooling, choose a side), voodoo cult practices, or any other speculated reason that has arisen in the aftermath of this sad news? What if there is no sound theological answer that systematically breaks down the specific cause that has created such an effect on the world? What answers can the disciple of Christ give to a scoffing unbeliever in times it seems that God has turned a blind eye to the plight of humanity? How many of us have turned to the Lord of Hosts and pleaded for His just hand, and His sovereign rule to be carried out in such a time as this?

I do not intend to answer these questions in great length or detail. It is my intent to be as succinct as possible. The best answer I know to give sounds pessimistic to those who do not know the Lord. It also sounds condescending to fathom a picture of loving and merciful God that allows such destruction to occur. I know it could do very little to console those who are presently experiencing the chaos in Haiti to hear that they have been punished with an earthquake and destruction because they have been judged for some pact made with the 'devil.' It may be even harder to comfort them with the words of Jesus Christ,

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luk 13:1-5)

If I could say anything to the purposed 100,000's who have traversed the void from this world to the next it might be,

You have not been the victim of a crime that has been carried out against you, and inevitably costing you your life. The injustices you may have suffered in the past life have not gone unseen, and will be dealt with (Gen 18:25, Eze 33:20). Whether you have enjoyed prosperity and happiness, or you have suffered immensely, your life will be judged by a merciful and Holy God (Luk 4:17-19). But, you will give account for all sin you have committed toward Him. In your place you will stand condemned by your rejection of His Son Jesus Christ (Ecclesiastes 12:14, Mat 12:36-37, Rom 14:12, Mat 10:33), or your reception of His redemptive work on the cross (1 Cor 1:18, Eph 2:14-16, Col 2:14). He will first take into consideration the injustice dealt Him by you in your entire lifetime (Jer 3:25, Rom 6:23, 2 Cor 5:21). From the first to last breath, every second will be brought to the light. The Lord God has written the law upon your heart, given you the testimony of creation, and outlined the boundaries of which you live, eat, sleep, and work so that you may experience a testimony of His existence (Jer 31:33, Rom 1:20, Acts 17:26-27). You have had a chance to repent of your wickedness, and you have had a chance to live just and upright as you served Him. If you have chosen to consider the cross foolishness, and rejected the embrace of the true love of God (John 3:16), then you will receive your full reward.

Lastly, I want to add that this is not a generalized condemnation of all those in Haiti. This is what I feel is a proper Christian response to a tragedy of any magnitude. The hope the believer has is not in temporal aid, relief, or sustenance, but in a treasure laid up in heaven. We are to look forward to the time when we will worship Him with voices of praise singing with the angels, Holy, Holy, Holy (Isa 6:3. Rev 4:8)! The Lord has a compassionate heart on those who are suffering and dying. Think not that He has not considered the cries of those who are in agony right now! He hears their cries, and His heart breaks for them, but He too must remain just before all nations, for sin cannot dwell in the presence of the Lord. How can we say that God is not merciful when He has provided a way through Jesus Christ, but yet He is rejected by those whom He has extended His grace to? We are the ones with the blood on our hands, not Him.

I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, "Here am I, here am I," to a nation that was not called by my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and making offerings on bricks; who sit in tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat pig's flesh, and broth of tainted meat is in their vessels; who say, "Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you." These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all the day. (Isa 65:1-5)


Mrs. Parunak said...

Good thoughts!

James said...

Thank you Mrs. Parunak! I love how what came out at the Lord's Table last night regarding this matter tied the post together. I was halfway through it Saturday, and hit a writing block :)

Pastor Jim Dinnan said...

That is well put James. I have thought this through on a little different plane. Obviously at a time of tragedy, Jesus would have us reach out with the tangibles of health care, food, water, medicine, housing, etc. Not to supply the tangibles flies in the face of many portions of the Gospel according to Luke. It would also squarely place us in the camp of those who say "be warmed and be fed" without offering food or clothing, which would make us hypocrites in the first degree according to James chapter 2. But the material help without the gospel is a temporary fix for an eternal problem. In the middle of the tragedy preaching might get lost in the chaos, and since we don't know when a tragedy will hit, the gospel needs to reach these places on a consistent basis. Those who have heard will now reflect on the gospel they have heard. Those who will hear when things settle down will reflect on what they survived. Send the physical help when the tragedy occurs, and the gospel on a consistent basis. I should be greatly convicted to send help in whatever way I can, and to support those who go with the gospel, and pray for the Holy Spirit to produce fruit from those who go with the gospel. That is how I deal with the tragedy of Haiti. On the other hand I am here in Wayne County and I need to be bold with the gospel while I am here, because I don't know when tragedy will strike near my home.

Anonymous said...


Good points, thanks for taking the time to post this. Sadly, our lukewarm church groups have spent years taking "missions" trips to Haiti and serving the poor there for a week while sneaking in "Jesus loves you" as the way to "preach" the "gospel" to them. Now most of the 100,000+ people that died are in torment in hell never haring the Gospel even if they encountered American "christians". Now what are we doing, flooding in more of the powerless humanitarin aid without a true gospel presentation... and easing our consciences by doing so. (This constitutes the vast majority of "christian" activity in Haiti, not all, but most). At least we're not trying to preach the prosperity message there though...


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