The images and news reports that are flooding in after the disastrous earthquake in Haiti are heartbreaking As Christians, we should be moved to seek any way we can help these desperate people in crisis; the most obvious and immediate way is through our collective prayers. Some of you will have the opportunity to have a more hands-on involvement with the Haitian people, a blessing that you should embrace if given the chance.
Unfortunately, the terror and death that has engulfed the small island in the Caribbean will elicit a multitude of “prophetic” pronouncements as to why God saw fit to bring about such a disaster. These “direct line” statements into the mind of God turn me off even more than they do most non-believers who chalk them up as yet another reason to not trust and believe in the Bible and the God of the Bible. After all, if belief in the Bible yields this kind of nonsensical thinking, who wants any part of that? However, in reaction to those kind of careless words many Christians will depart entirely from the notion that God did, in fact, bring about the earthquake for his own purposes. This becomes just another “cursed earth” event on which we can blame sin and leave God out of the carnage. I want to very briefly and simply address a few of these concerns
First, defaulting to the cursed earth argument is not helpful nor Scriptural. If we experience a period of drought and pray for rain, we are all too eager to thank God when the rain does come. Unless, of course, it rains a little too much and we experience flood. Then, it is the product of a cursed earth. So, we have to somehow figure out where the line is between God blessing us with his control over nature and nature just doing what it does. That, of course, is silly. Now, earthquakes, floods, and all the other horrific acts of nature were definitely not a part of God’s original plan and yes, sin did bring about their existence. But sin did not remove God’s presence and control over their comings and goings.
Second, we have to be very, very careful when we begin citing specific reasons as to why God does what he does. Just read the last chapter of the book of Job. God was prepared to destroy Job’s friends because they wrongly cited God’s reasons for Job’s afflictions. That is not to say we are completely clueless and just throw our hands in the air as to the purposes behind God’s actions. God does reveal some reasons as to what he does what he does. Sin does bring about horrific consequences. However, at times so does faithfully following Christ Jesus. God has revealed that his actions are always for his own glory and for the ultimate good of those who follow him. So. . .
Third, our response is to acknowledge that the earthquake in Haiti does come directly from the hand of God. Without him bringing it about, it never would have happened. We can confidently say that God has a specific purpose for the earthquake, a purpose that will bring him glory and provide a good result at the end of the day. We can provide some potential reasons as to why God might bring about such a deadly earthquake. What we must not do is begin declaring the exact, specific reasons why God did what he did. Although there may be some good ideas, much of those reasons could very well remain safely hidden in the mysterious will of God.
Lastly, these kinds of events should cause each of us individually, our churches corporately, and our nation to re-evaluate our own standing before God. Although we want to avoid the Pat Robertson sin citing reasons for God’s actions, the fact is that God does judge sin. And whether or not sin is the first cause reason for the Haiti earthquake, something I believe none of us can know for certain, we should nevertheless be humbled and moved to acknowledge our own sin and confess it before our holy God.
So, let’s not rob God of his complete sovereignty over his creation. But let’s not put words in his mouth either. Let’s just keep faithfully living for the name of Jesus Christ.