In a world which is so connected news spreads fast. I got an e-mail notifying me of a 7.0 earthquake very near Port-au-Prince, Haiti just moments after the event occurred. A magnitude 7.0 earthquake is large regardless of where it occurs on the globe, but in the Caribbean I knew it could have devastating effects–this is not an area that is prepared for such seismic events. Quickly reports began pouring in about the utter devastation of the capital city and the hundreds of thousands of people that officials fear have died.
It is hard to imagine as I sit behind my desk on a beautiful, sunny Southern California winter day that 3,000 miles away there is such horror, despair, and loss of life. But because of that interconnectedness via the Internet, I can see the photos and read the stories coming out of Haiti. My heart truly goes out to those people.
Many of you may be aware that shortly after this earthquake Pat Robertson reported that he knew the reason behind this earthquake: the people of Haiti made a pact with the devil to overthrow the French, and this earthquake is God punishing and bringing upon his judgment upon those people. Interesting. I am truly puzzled where this “pact with the devil” was recorded and where those treaty documents are! I did a word search in the Bible for “Haiti” and didn’t come up with anything. If God hasn’t revealed anything in his revealed Word, then we should immediately be suspect of somebody claiming, extra and special revelation. Robertson is famous for telling the world the underlying cause for natural disasters and even terrorist attacks as God’s judgment for this and that particular sin and here he is doing it again. (Dr. Horton has also reacted to Robertson’s video)
On the other side of the spectrum are people who are struggling with what happened, but yet don’t have answers. This essay is from a reporter who has spent many years in Haiti who laments, “And this? This is too much. How can nature or God or the fates or the universe do this to a country that has borne far too much sadness?”
This may sound strange, but in many ways this is a much more Biblical way of dealing with this situation! Obviously I am not praising Ms. Steber for her inclusion of naturalistic notions of “fate” and “the Universe”, but she did address her question to God–the Creator of the universe. It is pretty apparent that she is not a Christian or even a theist per se, but yet there is something that is drawing her to question God why this event happened. This, friends, is a Biblical response, even for believers. Throughout the Psalms the psalmists are asking God “Why?” Why are the wicked prospering? Why does it seem that you are so far from me? Why, why, why?
It is interesting that in Luke 13 there is a reference to something hauntingly similar to the events in Haiti (but on a much smaller scale).
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” (Luke 13:1-5 ESV).
Imagine that highlighted sentence as being “Or those hundreds of thousands on whom their homes in Haiti fell and killed them: do you think they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in the United States?” How would Pat Robertson respond to this question? “Yes, they were worse offenders because they made a pact with the devil.” But how did Christ, the second person of the Trinity respond? “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Did you catch that? Christ said, “NO” where Robertson says “Yes.” Christ then uses this tragic event to remind his hearers that everybody is an offender against God and we will all perish one day; therefore, now is the day of salvation; repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ!
You who are reading this right now may die today from a car accident on your way home. You might die of a heart-attack or in an earthquake in the middle of the night. But the fact remains that God has all the events under his providential care and that nothing escapes his control. However, we are not in the position to begin interpreting that providence. We can ask God “Why?”, but we may never hear that answer. Our pastors need to remind hearers of this and call unbelievers to repentance and faith in Christ alone because we have all made a pact with the devil because of the fall of our representative head Adam in the Garden. Our comfort in facing tragedies comes not from our self-confidence that we are better people than others, but that we have had our own sins paid for on the cross by the final sacrifice of Christ. We don’t look to our own righteousness, but we look to Christ’s perfect righteousness which has been imputed to us freely.
An event of the magnitude which happened in Haiti is yet another reminder to us that we live in a fallen world, and that every single person needs to be reconciled to the Creator God because, until Christ comes again, we will all perish in some way. But in Christ we have a comfort in life and in death that the world does not have, but a Gospel comfort that they need to hear. The Heidelberg Catechism starts with this beautiful expression of this comfort in its first question and answer:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own,
but belong –;
body and soul,
in life and in death –;
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.
That is our comfort and the comfort that the people of Haiti and every person in the world needs to hear.