As I mentioned this morning the crisis in Haiti has called us to think about our theology as well as our compassion. Times like 9/11, the tsunami of a few years back, Katrina, and now Haiti challenge our hearts as well as our heads. Often believers struggle giving an answer to their fellow man as to why God would allow or dictate events such as these. In truth these events often reveal not only the unbelievers small view of God, but sadly believers as well.
Reportedly Pat Robertson has stated that the current crisis is a result of the country of Haiti having made a “pact with the devil” a couple of centuries ago. As ludicrous as that may sound, and as ridiculous as he makes Christians look, we must not allow such comments to hijack the Biblical principle of culpability. Did the U.S. have it coming at 9/11? Was New Orleans not an epicenter of sensual evil? Were not the main countries devastated by the tsunami of radical Muslim persuasion? Was it a mere coincidence when a rare, freak, and amazingly discriminate tornado touched down in Minneapolis during the ELCA’s meetings that resulted in their affirming homosexual ministers, and toppled the very church where those Lutheran representatives were worshipping?
I think not.
To acknowledge that God is sovereign over all things is thoroughly Biblical and greatly comforting for the believer in Christ. God’s sovereignty however was never meant to be a cover-up for cause and effects. There are causes and effects-in life, in politics, in nations, etc. (Psalm 9:17; Gal. 6:7-8) To ignore these things is intellectually silly.
Where we go wrong is when we judge whether or not one person, one nation, or one group of people deserve judgment more than we do. In Luke 13 Jesus responded to those who thought a group of Galatians who had died a hideous death had it coming by saying, “Do you think these Galatians were worse sinners than all the other Galatians, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” He then referred to another tragedy of a tower that fell down killing 18 people. Again the prevailing belief was that somehow or another, they had it coming. To this Jesus repeated himself; “No, I tell you; that unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
God’s earthly graces are indiscriminate, but his judgments are very discriminate. As to His graces; “For He makes His sun rise on the evil, and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matt. 5:45 But note that our same God promised that in the day His Son reigns, if the Egyptian people do not honor Him, they will get no rain!.” Zech 14:18
Whenever great tragedy occurs on this earth there are a number of theological and practical truths for the follower of Christ to keep in mind.
1. God is soveriegn. Rom. 8:28, Eph. 1:11, Ps. 115, Daniel 4:35. This simply means that regardless whether or not we understand the reasons behind any tragedy, we can be sure God has them and furthermore, He is in complete control.
2. The pervasiveness of sin. Rom. 8:21-23 “The whole creation has been groaning…” The sin that we introduced into this world is the reason this world groans. And it groans through floods, hurricanes, famines and earthquakes to name a few.
3. The justice of God. Ps. 9:17 “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all nations that forget God.” While we must not put ourselves in the place of judgment, we must acknowledge that God does judge nations in time.
4. The promises of prophecy. Matt. 24:4-8 The promises Jesus himself gave as the time of His return drew near included “famines and earthquakes in various places.” In other words these times should point our hearts heavenward as we look to the return of our Savior!
5. The doctrine of responsibility. Matt. 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorifty your Father who is in heaven.” We were created for good works-Eph 2:10, and are commanded to do good works. Titus 2:7, Titus 2:14, Titus 3:1, Titus 3:8, Titus 3:14. Followers of Christ have often and rightly been accused of being distant from such tragedies as the one in Haiti. But yet Paul reminds us in Titus that when we demonstrate good works we “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” Titus 3:10 I am thankful that SBC has learned to respond to these kinds of tragedies. We sent men to tsunami ridden India and to New Orleans after Katrina. We will certainly be open to what the Lord has us to do in Haiti.