January 23, 2010

Encouraging Words 1/23/10-Don't Blame God for Haiti Disaster

The Bible tells us three things that we believe are very pertinent to the tragedy in Haiti:

1)  Bad things, some of them very bad, will happen during our time on Earth
2)  We won't understand why they happen
3)  God can bring good out of anything if we trust Him

When a disaster the magnitude of the Haiti earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, and the South Asian tsumami happen, it is natural and understandable for people to question God or even blame Him for allowing there horrible things to happen.

We believe this essay from Christianity Today gives a balanced and theologically sound perspective on this:

It is important to maintain two contradictory attitudes at once in many areas of Christian theology, and this is one of those areas. These are the two clashing points of view in this case:

Point of view #1: The Creation does declare the glory of God, and the "Thunderstorm Psalm" (Ps. 29: "The Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon . . .") proclaims that message magnificently. God is not only the Creator but also the One who rules over the cosmos. The theophany (a manifestation of the power of God) in the Book of Job (chs. 38-41) is the preeminent biblical passage treating of this subject, and the phrase "the doors of the sea" is derived from 38:8.

Many people have experienced a sort of theophany even in the midst of destruction; people have testified to this even when they have had to face the dire consequences of a natural catastrophe (there are examples of this in Isaac's Storm, the book about the hurricane that destroyed Galveston, and in David McCullough's account of the Johnstown Flood). So the wild, untamed aspect of nature can be either comforting or exhilarating or both, depending on one's point of view.

Point of view #2: At the same time, nature is not benign. Nature is "red in tooth and claw." Nature, like the human race, is fallen and is subject to the powers of the Evil One who continues to occupy this sphere. Flannery O'Connor wrote that her work was about the action of grace in territory held largely by the Devil; we should not fail to realize that "nature" is part of that occupied territory. Nature is often hostile, as Annie Dillard has so powerfully shown us, and the nature-worshipers among us fail to acknowledge this hostility in their pantheistic enthusiasm. Only by action of the Creator will the peaceable kingdom arrive, where the lion lies down with the lamb. (Isn't it suggestive that "Lion of Judah" and "Lamb of God" are both titles of our Lord?)

The conflict between these two realities cannot be resolved in this life. Does the Creator of all that is have the power to say to those tectonic plates, "Be still!" Of course. Then why doesn't he? Why does he permit earthquakes in the poorest country in the hemisphere?

We do not know.

Saying "there is a reason for everything" may be true, but that is a cruel and heartless response at the point of great suffering. The most pastoral response, as well as the most truthful theological response, is to live in the contradiction.
Click here to read the rest of the essay.
How can we trust God without having all the answers?  By faith.  As horrible as the Haiti disaster is, amazing stories are already surfacing of people who survivied with little to hold on to in the natural, but who exercised faith.  God never abandons us.  He won't always prevent bad things from happening to us, but he will show us a path to move forward through them--we can both personally testify to that.

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