Monday, 18 January 2010

Reflections on Haiti

The Haitian earthquake is already being termed the worst natural disaster in history as the death toll from this catastrophe is expected to rise to over 200 000, which means it would indeed rival the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean in so far as the loss of human life is concerned. What is even more disturbing is that the poor state of Haitian infrastructure and the parlous state of its government has added incalculably to the litany of human misery which the news reports are conveying to us, including the prediction I heard today that 50% of those pulled from the rubble and being treated at the Port Au Prince Hospital will die for lack of basic health care or surgery. Meanwhile, the spectre of a total collapse of Haitian society into lawlessness looms.

Any attempt to provide a theodicy in the immediate aftermath of this disaster along the lines of “God will bring good out of this” seems superfluous. Suffice to say, though, that a disaster of these proportions does bring good (and alas, evil) out of human beings that in ordinary circumstances only extraordinary people display. One is brought to tears by the suffering and resilience of the victims, the bravery of the rescuers and the compassion shown by many in solidarity with this poor people at this time of crisis, and almost simultaneously one feels the swell of righteous indignation rising against those Christians who have made insensitive and ill-informed commentary on the reasons why this has happened to the Haitian people (see here: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/patriarch-blames-crime-and-drugs-for-haitian-quake/397763.html and here: http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2010/01/13/crimesider/entry6092717.shtml). Let them be reminded of the words of our Lord, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

The best response a Christian can make to this disaster, after reaching out to the victims in any way possible, is to repent and seek refuge in Christ along with committing those suffering to his grace and mercy. None of us is righteous apart from Christ, no-one is entitled to point the finger at another nation’s supposed collective sin as the cause of this disaster. “Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."
Lord, have mercy!


(Note: For an interesting historical sidelight on the relation between the liberation of Haiti from colonial rule and the survival of the American Republic, see Gene Veith's post here: http://www.geneveith.com/what-america-owes-to-haiti/_4439, or click on the hyperlink in the right-hand column under 'Blogs..'. I was going to post on this myself, but Dr Veith's post renders this unnecessary.)

4 comments:

Matthias said...

Thank you Pastor for this well balancedand Christlike meditation. I wonder if our own Hindsight prophet Danny Nalliah had a vision of haiti's earthquake as he did the Victorian bushfires . As forPat robertson ,yes he has peopl on the ground in Haiti but his comments are uncalled for and are not in the the same manner as Christ's.

acroamaticus said...

Thanks Matthias. I do hope Rev Robertson follows up on his promise of aid. Meantime, someone needs to counsel him to think before opening his mouth! He even got the historical reference to Napoleon wrong. A man with such wide public exposure can accomplish great good - or alternatively bring disrepute upon the Christian faith.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to add to the tragedy of Haiti but whenever I read comments about not judging the victims, it seems there must be more. Certainly some disasters were the result of divine justice -- the Flood, Sodom & Gomorrah, the destruction of Jerusalem, etc. And Jesus' comments could (emphasis on could) be interpreted to apply only to victims of political violence and engineering failure. In any case, there must be more to all this although we may not be able to know more in this life.

acroamaticus said...

Anonymous - thanks for your comment.

A couple of things by way of brief response.

Yes, in a sense we can say that all natural disasters are a visitation of divine wrath on humankind because of our sin, and that this is all a result of the Fall and original sin, which also affected the natural order.

However, in regard to the Biblical disasters you mentioned we know they were punishments for specific sins because God's Word tells us. That does not apply in Haiti's case, so we should be reluctant to pronounce upon this disaster without any authoritative Word from God. We "see through a glass darkly" on these matters, and the speculations of Pat Roberston and the Moscow Patriarch run dangerously close to Pharisaism, in that they only point the finger at the Haitians' supposed sins and do not draw lessons for themselves and their own people, who also have grievous sins.

Lastly, thus what I said still applies, and there is a spiritual danger to us if we waste too much time speculating about such things when there is no Word from God on them (I won't go into prophecy here for want of space and time).
Best to take the words of Jesus re the Tower of Siloam incident and apply them to ourselves at this time.

I hope this counsel is of assistance to you in working through what is on your mind.

Blessings!