Monday, January 18, 2010

Thoughts on Haiti, God, and All That

It's been a good week to be reading through the book of Job. No sooner did that man of God lose everything than the earthquake in Haiti struck. All week updates and images of the immeasurable destruction have filled my eyes and mind during the day. Each evening Job's and his useless friends' arguments have filled my mind. The parallels are striking.

Pain and suffering happen, to anyone in any station of life. We rarely discover the reasons behind it--more often, we are left to endure and hopefully heal. God does not promise us answers to his rationale, to his plan. He promises to help and strengthen us as we pass through the fire. So when high-profile religious commentators offer their own take on why Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake (His judgment for their pact with the devil?), I grieve and fume. What a horrible message to send to the world on behalf of Christians! How insensitive, untimely, judgmental... how presumptuous!

"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements--surely you know! ...Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness...You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!" (Job 38:4-5, 19-20)

(I do love a little godly sarcasm.)

Our response to Haiti, and any other disaster (personal or national), should be love. Love that takes action to meet the needs of the hurting. Love that can sit with a grieving victim and cry along with her. Love that rejoices to see individuals and nations rush to aid the hurting. We are called to share the love of Christ, and this involves not only the message of hope but our hands full of generously given help. Jesus had compassion on the hurting--this led him to feed them, heal, them, touch them, comfort them. He met them at their greatest physical need first.

That's where we find ourselves today with Haiti. Don't let the overwhelming nature of the destruction hinder you from helping however you can. Volunteer to sort and pack supplies, donate to any number of charities responding to the disaster, sponsor a trip, and when the time is right--go there to serve in person. That time will come for many of us!

And it's OK to think theologically about the horror we've observed. I found an interesting post on Her.meneutics, the Christianity Today blog for women, that does just that. But let's refrain from the pompous (and unfortunately public) pronouncements that we've got the answers.

Some things we'll never know. But in the meantime, the people of Haiti and all who love them can know God's love through us.

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