Lots of folks have given thoughts about the tragedy that befell Haiti this last week. Notably, the 7.0 earthquake that, for all intents purposes, all but completely destroyed Haiti. Some have also used this tragedy to launch into a discussion on the person of Job in the Bible and issues of suffering. It has also launched conversations on the question of evil and the nature or a loving God (how could a supposedly loving God allow such a tragedy?), etc.
I am not sure I am ready to call the tragedy that befell Haiti “evil” necessarily. Personally, whereas I tend to see things like earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, mud slides, volcanic eruptions, and so on, as natural disasters, I see things like mass murders, acts terrorism (be it terrorist bombings or gun shootings in schools or malls, etc), drunk drivers crashing and killing people, theft, deception, and the like, as “evil.” Maybe this is drawing too fine a line but it’s how I tend to see it.
Nor am I ready to attribute the natural act of tectonic plate shifts, to an act of God. The same goes for others natural disasters (what secularist US insurance companies interestingly still call “an act of God”). I guess that is the Arminian in me coming out. This is not to say God cannot or does not utilize natural disasters to bring judgement on cities or nations. To say that, would be to ignore the Bible, more specifically Exodus and Joel to name a couple. If anything, the earthquake wasn’t a surprise to God, but did he cause it? That’s too difficult to answer so I don’t know if we should “go there.”
The Bible says in Romans 8:
The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by it’s own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time…. (Rom 8:19-22).
So, we know that due to the problem of sin, not just Adam and Eve were affected, so was the whole of creation and especially the earth. Our sin subjected it to frustration and decay. Is it fair to say the earth is in a process of decay and destruction through the problem of natural forces such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis, etc? One thing is for sure, according to the Apostle Paul, creation longs to be free just as bad as we do.
I am not a deist, but I do tend to think things were set in motion on the earth and all that was thrown out of whack when the fall occured. But I am not yet fully convinced that God is the author of every hurricane, every earthquake, every rain storm, every tectonic plate shift. Is he the author of some of them. Maybe, I wouldn’t know. These things are part of the natural processes that go on in the world, and unfortunately, we get caught up in them. It’s simply a reality of a fallen world. And in the midst of this fallen world, God is with us through the presence of his people and through the presence of his Holy Spirit. I am not sure I like this paragraph, it makes it sound too much like I am saying, “Oh well, these things happen, too bad, it’s just how life is.”
Does God hate Haiti? No, God does not hate Haiti or Haitians. God is not mad at Haiti. Sometimes tectonic plates….. shift. Depending on how big the shift is, tragedy occurs. When tragedy occurs, God comes to people’s aid through his provision of help. What about those who die? I don’t know how to answer that but to say God will be with us in and through the grief, providing comfort though others and through his Spirit.
I appreciate a comment by my blogging buddy Sam who said:
As with all natural evil, the reality of Christianity is not found in reflecting upon why God allowed it to happen, but rather becoming a reflection of God by asking, “What are we going to do about it?”
So, what are we/you going to do about it?