What a crazy couple of days so far! My emotional energy is nearly spent. The ups and downs of yesterday were many and dramatic, at least for me. The images and video coming out of Haiti are even more dramatic and emotional. It is beginning to look more and more like the recovery and rebuilding process will be one of years and years instead of months and months. The devastation to property is massive, but it is the growing total of deaths that is truly horrifying. And I don’t even want to think about what things will look like in a week or so when things have calmed down a little bit and people start having to deal with all the orphans and widows/widowers who have not only lost loved ones, but also now have no place to sleep.
One of the most natural responses to a disaster on this scale is to simply ask, “Why?” Believers and non-believers alike look to heaven in the aftermath of a great tragedy and ask, “Why, God? Is this your doing? If not, why did you allow it?”
Much has been made of yesterday’s comments by Pat Robertson concerning the Haiti earthquake. I can’t find the video I saw this morning, but here is an article that covers what he said pretty succinctly. More or less, Robertson put forth that the earthquake was God’s judgment on a nation that “made a pact with the Devil” in order to secure freedom from French rule 200 years ago.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know enough about Pat Robertson to really make an informed statement on his life, ministry, or beliefs. Here’s what I do know – aside from the obvious logical holes in his theory, it is misleading and presumptuous to claim factual knowledge of why a natural disaster occurred to a particular group of people. Scripture declares pretty emphatically (here, as well as in the book of Job) that God’s will is often incomprehensible to us, that we can’t know for certain why tragedy and suffering happen. No wonder friends of mine have been posting the Twitter tag #PatRobertsonDoesntSpeakforMe on their profiles.
Here’s the truth, as far as I believe any mortal can know it… God is God and we are not. Whatever he causes or allows to happen is completely out of our control, because he is God and we are not. We did not create the world. We did not create the concepts of “just” and “unjust”, “right” and “wrong”. He did, because he is God and we are not. His nature is good, loving, compassionate, just, merciful, mighty, holy, and righteous. For human beings to try to assign a judgment to an act of God is like a sculpture complaining about the sculptor’s craftsmanship. We, who are a part of Creation, can in no way assign any kind of meaningful judgment to an act of the Creator. He is God and we are not.
So, back to the question, “Why, God?” The best answer, as I see it, is the answer that God gave to Job after Job questioned God for allowing him to suffer greatly. From Job 40:2, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” The best response for us is Job’s response, “I am nothing – how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say” (Job 40:4-5). In that response Job realizes that he’s trying to understand things that no human being was ever intended to understand. In short, he’s way out of his league. And that realization allows Job to simply be before God in a state of submission.
So instead of trying to figure out a reason for the Haiti earthquake, trying to wrap a finite and earthly mind around an infinite and heavenly will, let’s simply present ourselves before God in a state of submission. He is God and we are not. Let’s simply be ready and willing for whatever God calls us to do in response to the needs of the Haitian people.