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Haiti – Why?

January 27, 2010

bbc.co.uk/news

With the tragedy of the Haiti earthquake still unfurling and the death-toll rising. The stories of hope and pain fluttering through the dust to our computer screens serve as a timely reminder to the world.

We must be prepared.

Here in Kathmandu the general tabloid consensus is this: use Haiti as a timely reminder, we have the chance to prepare for an impending earthquake. They didn’t. And so the earthquake training and preparations are being slowly put into action – by our company at least.

Whilst prayers for Haiti fill the heavens and echo around the world I am aware that there is also the ringing of the resounding question that follows every natural disaster:

‘Why does God let this happen?’

Isn’t it strange how things like this, the things the world feels the need to blame God for, are the very things that make us turn to him in desperation for help?

A new friend who experienced an earthquake at thirteen told me how she prepared herself to say her last prayer and then waited.  How many Haitians did the same thing?

Whilst one side of the world questions God the other side are on their knees praying for friends and family affected and still others are on their knees in the rubble of Haiti praying for help and aid to arrive.

Picture courtesy of bbc.co.uk their in-pictures collection

So why does God allow natural disasters?

God doesn’t look with joy on the pain suffered by his creation. The very fact that we put the pain there in the first place through sin, no doubt, cuts him to the heart.

When considering the above question I didn’t have an immediate answer. I have to be honest I actually don’t know why God allows natural disasters.

I believe he has ultimate power to do anything, I believe he heals, comforts, loves and cares for us but as far as natural disasters are concerned I don’t know why he doesn’t stop them. Especially when I believe he has the power to.

It seems that, not even some of the world’s leading priests can answer the question:

The Archbishop of York, England, John Sentamu said this when asked by the BBC:

I have nothing to say that makes sense of this horror – all I know is that the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus is that he is with us. See BBC story here…

I think he sums up what I think too, perhaps we don’t understand but it is important to remember that even in disasters like Haiti we are not forgotten by God. The fact that people are still being found alive over a week later speaks volumes of God’s presence and protection.

I’ve been reading around the subject and one point that has come up is this: If we lived in a perfect world where would the necessity to develop certain characteristics develop? What is being brave without fear? Becoming a hero without facing a danger? Appreciating safety without being at risk? Living in a perfect, safe, cosy world would in essence remand some of the best developed qualities like these obsolete and ultimately abolishing our capacity to love.

On the opposing side of the evangelistic scale is Pat Robertson an American evangelist:

“He has suggested Haiti has been cursed ever since the population swore a pact with the Devil to gain their freedom from the French at the beginning of the 19th Century.

Robertson’s claim will strike many as ludicrous, if not offensive. ~ BBC Magazine article.

Is Pat Robertson right? Were the Haitans just bad people? Are they being punished for some kind of evil that they have done? Are they somehow worse than the rest of us?

No!

Here’s how I know:

Jesus mentions the occurrence of a freak-accident in the Bible when the tower of Siloam fell on eighteen people who died~ Luke 13v1-4. He doesn’t condemn those ‘innocent’ people were killed he just states the fact that they were no more guilty than everyone else as far as sin was concerned. He paints no picture of blame on one particular person or people group.  He states that we are all sinners and need to repent as much as the next person.

“…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.”

The first sin’s impact on creation?

Natural disasters always get me thinking about the fall of man, perhaps the first sin had more of an impact than just on humans. Think about it.. what if mans first sin had a direct impact on everything to do with creation. The impact of sin was so huge that it struck the very core of everything created and caused it to ‘misbehave’? Genesis tells us that the land was ‘cursed’ because of sin, everything became more toilsome, it seems a natural assumption that disasters such as earthquakes, tsunami’s and hurricanes could come out of this?

This doesn’t however explain the question.

Why does God allow natural disasters?

When I am faced with questions that I don’t have a clue to I have a habit of burying them at the back of my mind and getting on with things and trusting that God’s got everything covered. However the question of Haiti kept coming back. I asked my friend S’martin to come up with an answer (remember the trinity conundrum?).

Here’s Martin’s musings on the subject.

bbc.co.uk/news

Final thought..

An image that has stayed with me from watching the comment s on Aljazeera TV is this: People hearing singing in the streets. Amidst the devastation hymns of prayer and praise rose from the rubble, shining hope into the dark.

Just thinking that the pictures of the children that have run through the newspapers, covered in dust big eyes filled with fear and disbelief, they might have been sung to sleep amongst the rubble finding comfort in the voices that kept them company through the night.

Whilst the Haitians are waiting on aid the western tabloids are running with the stories of devastation and the beginnings of looting and gangs being formed. The hope seems to have dis-apparated from the news as fast as it was being broadcast just a few days ago. However one journalistic entry from Australia springs out as an exception to the rule.

Channel Nine’s news director Mark Calvert said while disasters can sometimes bring out the very worst in journalists, they can also produce the best. Read the story here…

Fair enough the guys got major coverage, but the very fact that rival broadcasting companies set their labels aside to help out speaks volumes to anyone even remotely connected with the journalistic world.

Disasters can bring us together. They remind us that we are all capable of setting aside differences of race, religion and political view, they remind us of the one thing that we all have in common no matter who we are. We’re human and we’re vulnerable.

What happened in Haiti was and is tragic, seeing it all pan out on TV is a shocking reminder of how vulnerable humanity is. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti.

It’s during disasters like this that people come to the forefront, display courage and become heroes.

It’s times like these that the whole world stops to mourn, if only for a moment.

It’s times like these that can restore our faith in humanity and in God.

It opens our eyes to the amount of ‘good’ people there are in this world and should challenge us to live better lives.

Take one thing from the Haiti earthquake.. take the opportunity to help future victims of similar disasters:

Stories of hope from Haiti mission workers.

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