On January 12th, Haiti quaked. Its foundations rattled, cracked and crumbled. So did its people. What followed the horrific physical devastation was even worse: a tsunami of loss and grief that roared into the lives and homes of Haitians and compassionate people worldwide.
Did it crash through your walls too? Did the wails of horror and pain shred the routine of your days? Did they drive you to pray? To help? To question why?
I have friends who have visited Haiti. “It’s a horribly dark country,” they told me after their first trip. “A country starved for the love of Christ.” They returned several times to bring aid. Hands, not to hold, but to work. God’s love with skin on.
Pat Robertson, a controversial evangelical leader in the US, leapt to blame the quake on God. According to Mr. Robertson, God caused the quake, to punish Haiti for “embracing voodooism.”
Indeed…God hates evil. The Old Testament cites many instances of God’s judgment on unrighteous people, cities, and nations. Even the New Testament records incidents of God showing his displeasure through sudden catastrophe.
But if Robertson is right, I can think of a few spots closer to home that should have gotten all shook up first.
Jesus said, “the rain falls on people both righteous and unrighteous.” And when asked if a blind beggar’s lack of vision had been caused by his or his parents’ sin, he answered, “Neither. This happened so the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
I’d rather not waste my time playing “Pin the Blame on God.” I believe God has embraced Haiti in her hurt, bringing hope and compassion.
I’ve heard several journalists report, amazed, that they’ve met grateful, joyful people; that they’ve seen people who have lost it all—with no chance of recovery—helping others.
In an interview with the CBC Radio a week after the quake, Rebecca Solnit, author of “A Paradise Built in Hell—Communities That Arise from Disaster,” said, “In times of crises, people often find what’s missing in everyday life, a purpose, a meaning. A self-transcendent kind of joy…”
Joy? Body parts in the street? Not knowing where your loved ones are? Or worse knowing they’ve died in the most horrible circumstances? Loss on every hand? No hope of normal—ever again?
“Disasters are not a solution to everyday life,” Solnit continued. “But they’re a window into who we CAN be.”
I recently heard about a post-WW11 survey done in Britain. The British people reported that they were never happier than during the years of the Blitzkrieg. Unexpected things arise in the hearts of people under siege.
The Preacher and I observed that often during his months at Wascana Rehab Centre. The buoyant faith of critically disabled people drove me often to pray, “Lord, forgive my complaining.”
Watch Haiti. Help if you can. Jesus weeps there. God works for good there: darkness, his favourite canvas, births the strongest faith and reveals the brightest, most glorious light.
Many Christian organizations have leapt to Haiti’s aid. If your own church has no avenue to give, you can donate online at the following websites:
World Vision: www.worldvision.ca
Billy Graham Rapid Response Team/Samaritan’s Purse: www.billygraham.org
Salvation Army: www.salvationarmy.org