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|Haiti and the Judgment of God||01/22/2010|
While the world watches the rescue effort in the torn nation of Haiti, a question has arisen that often comes up in such cases. "Is this God's judgment?" While I do not believe that this is the most important issue concerning Haiti right now, it does provide an opportunity to address a deep and difficult question regarding the nature of God.
Having spent so many years dealing with tragedy, I have heard this question repeatedly. A wonderful Christian teenager gets gunned down at school. A devoted husband, father and pastor is struck by a drunk driver. A missionary unexpectedly dies of a disease. Countless men, women and innocent children are wiped out by a natural disaster. Almost every time, the question is the same: "What did I/we/they do to deserve this?"
This question actually came up when Jesus walked the earth. In John 9, Jesus and his disciples came upon a blind man. "Rabbi," his disciples asked him, "why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents' sins?"
Isn't this essentially the same question being asked by some about Haiti? Whether it's a reference to a possible voodoo curse from 1791 or the violence and corruption of recent history, there is ample sin in that nation to justify, in the minds of some people, any punishment that may come. To me, this type of analysis is not only ill-timed, but inappropriate.
"It was not because of his sins or his parents' sins," Jesus answered the disciples concerning the blind man. "This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world."
This was not the answer the disciples sought. To them, the cause-and-effect relationship was clear. But Jesus had plans that confounded the natural mind. Jesus spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man's eyes – a very strange ritual by any account. But Jesus wasn't there for ritual. He told the blind man, "Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam." So the man went and washed and his sight was restored.
I'm sure some scientists could theorize about a certain enzyme in the spit and the chemical reaction when properly mixed with an element found in the mountains of eastern Jerusalem as related to certain temporary blindness, but I believe the point is simple: obedience. The blind man didn't have to believe Jesus. He could have easily cursed the man who rubbed spit in his eyes, but he didn't. He didn't even question the sovereignty of God. Instead, he obeyed – and was miraculously healed. In that, the power of God was seen.
So why was Port-au-Prince nearly wiped off the map? If it was judgment, God missed. Many outright evil people survived, the criminals in prison escaped and some dedicated Christian missionaries died along with precious children. Furthermore, if God is sending disaster to areas of sin, then the end of the world is certainly near. If people were grouped into nations, some could probably find enough cause to destroy every nation on earth.
Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, rightly asks, "Why did no earthquake shake Nazi Germany? Why did no tsunami swallow up the killing fields of Cambodia? Why did Hurricane Katrina destroy far more evangelical churches than casinos? Why do so many murderous dictators live to old age while many missionaries die young?"
The accounts of Noah and the flood, as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, illustrate that God has allowed cities and regions to be destroyed because of sin. But in the case of the flood, God sent a rainbow as a sign that he would not destroy the earth again in such a way (although it probably felt like it when an estimated 150,000 people died in the tsunami that swept southeast Asia at the end of 2004). Even in the ancient cities destroyed by some sort of fire from the sky, the point is equally God's grace as it is God's justice.
In the case of Sodom, Abraham asked the Lord, "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?"
God answered that he would spare the city. Abraham then negotiated it down to just ten people. What grace allows thousands of wicked people to live on account of just ten righteous people! In the end, only Lot and his family escaped, after God sent angels to rescue them. But as in the case of the blind man, they survived because of their obedience.
Jesus didn't come into the world to condemn it. Likewise, no one should condemn Haiti in their time of suffering. This is a time for action and obedience to point everyone to the "light of the world," Jesus Christ. Rather than discussing the questionable history of Haiti, we should be discussing how we can help build their future on a stronger foundation, both literally and spiritually. It is wonderful to watch compassion poured out on a nation from humanitarian organizations, various governments and the Christian community. An ungodly lifestyle and disregard for sound principles always brings its own pain and suffering. But Jesus came so that we could be saved from those consequences. This is where we must keep our focus.
The truth is that if God caused disasters to come upon everyone who sinned, nobody would be left. We live in a fallen world, where natural disasters, accidents, disease and tragedy all exist. God's role is that of savior, a forgiving and compassionate Father. When tragedy occurs, our response should be obedience. As He said through the prophet Isaiah, we must work to set free the oppressed, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and tend to the needy. This is a time to reveal to everyone in our fallen world that wherever tragedy exists, the grace and mercy of God is available to carry them through the pain. In this, the power of God is revealed.
The people of Haiti are not suffering so that someone can cast judgment on them. In their suffering, Christians should obey the Word of God and reach out to them. If anyone is being tested, it is us. This is not a time for division between believers. It is a time to unite, reach out and share the life and love of Jesus Christ.
Author: James Robison
Editor: Randy Robison
Word Count: 1131
About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and His wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Soul of a Nation, The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.
Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net . Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.