Why Haiti? Why them? Why not us?

I saw in the news the other day that a high profile Christian leader had caused a stir by stating publicly that the devastation in Haiti was a judgment from God because Haiti, at one point in her history, made a pact with the devil.  When I heard this, I couldn’t help but hang my head and think about how awful his comment will be for the image of Christianity in America.  A relative of mine even brought it to my attention yesterday and said that this was just the kind of attitude that gave him such distaste for the church for so many years.  Although spoken by a Christian leader, this comment is lacking in Christian perspective.  In fact, it is almost the opposite perspective that Christ himself taught his disciples.  In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus turns the table on this spiritually skewed view of why suffering happens to some and not others …

1There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Jesus’ disciples point out to him that the Roman governor Pilate had killed many Galileans.  It was as if they were saying, “those Galileans must have been a lot worse sinners than us for God to blast them like that.”  Jesus gets right to the point: “do you think this happened to them because they were somehow worse sinners?”  His answer is a clear “No.”  Here Jesus is clearly saying that no one should see a disaster and then jump to the conclusion that it happened to them because they were worse sinners.  But Jesus didn’t just respond to their misinformed thinking, he challenged their hearts, not just once but twice — “unless you  repent, you will all likewise perish.”  What is Jesus saying here?  Although most of us tend to see ourselves as pretty good people and are able to sustain that belief through much comparison of ourselves with others and a lack of understanding God’s holiness, Jesus’ perspective could not be more different.  He is saying that because we have all rejected God and His will for our lives, we all deserve to perish.  So Jesus turns the tables on us.  Instead of asking “why them?” as this high profile Christian leader recently did, Jesus is saying that we need to be asking “why not me?”  From God’s perspective, the astonishing thing is not that some should suffer.  From His perspective, the astonishing thing is that anyone should receive mercy after we have been so offensive to God.  This should encourage us toward a deeper understanding of the seriousness of our sin and also a deeper gratitude for the unexplainable mercy that we have been given.  The truth is that we all deserve worse than the devastation of Haiti for our rejection and belittlement of God.  But Jesus is not content to leave us in our plight nor is He indifferent to the suffering of this world.  In great love, He voluntarily entered into the excruciating suffering of the cross to end both our personal alienation from God and the cosmic effects of sin on this world that cause tragedies like earthquakes.  Notice in Matthew 27:54 that there was even an earthquake near the cross.  Jesus went through the “earthquake” of God’s wrath against sin so that we wouldn’t have to and to one day restore this broken world.  When Jesus sees the devastation of Haiti, He doesn’t point fingers.  He grieves.  He enters.  He dies.  He restores.

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One Response to Why Haiti? Why them? Why not us?

  1. Good post. I know the Christian speaker you mention, but since you didn’t name him I will also refrain. It was mentioned in my Ethics class by my professor and some people on Facebook. Sad, really.

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