Christian, how do you respond to Haiti?

posted in: Current issues, Haiti | 5

I listened with shock (but without surprise) to Pat Robertson‘s latest proclamation of idiocy (viewed here) regarding the events in Haiti.”How can you be so matter-of-fact in speaking for God and declaring His judgment on the people of Haiti hours after an

 (Photo credit JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)

earthquake destroyed its capital?” I asked as I watched the clip. (Fortunately there are high profile Christians like Michael Horton who put into perspective this type of prophetic pandering.

(NOTE: for a healthy biblical perspective on God and disasters listen to this NPR interview with John Piper on the heels of the 2005 Tsunami that devastated Indonesia and parts of Thailand).

Is Robertson’s declaration that this is God’s judgment on Haiti for having made a pact with the devil an appropriate response? It’s a question I’ve been wrestling with for the past few days as I’ve watched clips, read stories and followed photo essays coming out of Haiti. My response is no, it is not appropriate and here are a few things I’ve concluded about being a Christian at times like these.

(Photo credit DANIEL MOREL/AFP/Getty Images)

NO ONE has a right to presume to know the mind of God, let alone speak with an air of authority regarding that presumption. I do know that NOTHING happens in this world without God’s approval and He has a purpose – His purpose – for all He allows (Isaiah 46:9-10). Only God sees all of history before Him at once and knows exactly how this quake fits into His eternal plan. To cherry pick a prophesy is to reveal theological shallowness.

I must feel compassion for the suffering of the people. The Christian who is not moved to compassion  – and worse yet allows the thought that this is somehow deserved – is a legalist at best and heartless at worst, and I’d seriously question that person’s claim of salvation.(“…Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”)

My compassion must motivate me to do something. I may not be in a position to give or go, but I can certainly pray. Pray for the people, for workers trying to help, for suffering to be assuaged, for the Gospel to be preached and for God to save thousands.

My actions of compassion must NOT be devoid of the Gospel. There is no way to alleviate all the human suffering of this world and especially in a situation like this. Physical suffering in this world is a visual representation of a spiritual reality: Sin causes suffering; has from the beginning and will until the end. God has placed the earth under a curse (Romans 8:19-23). Nothing man does is going to change that reality but we are called by God to apply ourselves to good works while seeking to share a remedy (the Gospel) for man’s greatest need (forgiveness of sin to be reconciled to God). Failing to do this is not compassionate. In fact it is cruel. To be so close as to extend clean water to someone yet not share the Gospel is to alleviate a temporal need while withholding  hope that quenches his or her eternal need.

Every Christian should watch the news coming out of Haiti with a great deal of soul searching, a healthy amount of compassion and a deep desire to see Jesus become very real in the lives of the suffering masses.

5 Responses

  1. Phoebe Harrison

    Amen, Chris. Your points are well stated and I agree 100%.

  2. Chris

    Thanks Kellly and Phoebe for stopping by. I will say a large part of my perspective has been shaped by being on location days after two hurricanes – Georges and Mitch – ripped across the Caribbean and Honduras respectively and being in Peru and part of an earthquake myself. The devastation is more overwhelming in person than what broadcast news is adequately able to capture.

  3. Andrea

    I agree. I especially liked, “My compassion must motivate me to do something.” What a good reminder for me!

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