In the dust of the streets lie the young and the old. Dead bodes without end. Infants dashed in pieces at the head of every road.
The tongue of the nursing infant sticks to the roof of its mouth for thirst, the children beg for food but no one gives to them. Boys stagger under loads of wood. They stumble over bodies! “So many dead bodies!” “They are thrown everywhere!” In all the streets they say, “Alas! Alas!” In all the squares, wailing.
The city has been made desolate. The palace melts away. The winter house along with the summer house, and the houses of ivory perish.
It is darkness, and not light.
Walking among such staggering sights stirred within me deep grief and anguish. Everywhere I looked, destruction and chaos reigned. Not a house or building stood untouched. The devastation was gross and unimpaired. The stench of corpses plagued my senses unrelentingly, the glimpse of the piles of the dead immutably seared, singed across my conscience.
Though I have not been to Haiti, these are words I can only imagine coming to mind if I were in the streets of Port Au Prince today. The images across our T.V. screens and computer monitors cannot do the devastation justice, nor can the reporters and media. We who have never experienced such a disaster cannot truly know, even begin to imagine what these Haitians have seen every day since the great earthquake unleashed upon their capital, reeking utter annihilation upon them.
How can they, no less we, even begin to make sense of what has happened?
And how can a lyric from the common Christian song Your Name, “Kingdoms rise, and kingdoms fall, Sovereign God directs them all” even begin to answer such suffering?
Yet, the lyric is not empty. It is a summary statement, the conclusion of the story, like the end of a thesis paper, after you have spilled abundant ink explaining how you got there. Such a statement is not meant to be understood apart from the mass of details of this sovereign God so eloquently penned in Scripture. For this is a reality so great, so in-conquerable, even the 66 books of Scripture cannot adequately explain it.
The italicized words above — do they not sound like Haiti right now?
In the dust of the streets lie the young and the old. Dead bodes without end.
The children beg for food but no one gives to them. Boys stagger under loads of wood. They stumble over bodies! “So many dead bodies!” “They are thrown everywhere!” In all the streets they say, “Alas! Alas!” In all the squares, wailing.
The city has been made desolate.
It is darkness, and not light.
And yet, these are sentences pulled from Scripture, God’s sacred words depicting His acts, His deeds, yes, His judgments.
I do not, nor will I ever agree with the sentiments of Pat Robertson. It is not for us to say when God is judging. Please hear me, that is NOT where I am going.
The question I am asking, the question I yearn that you consider is this: Can our faith uphold when we realize that the God we worship has, at more than one point in history, actually brought about suffering like what we are witnessing in Haiti? Those images your eyes bear witness of when you turn on your computer in the morning — God has in the past been the Direct cause of similar suffering on nations long ago — and claimed as such for Himself, and not only on foreign nations, but on His own people, the nation of Israel. Listen to Amos 9:
“I saw the Lord standing beside the altar and He said, ‘Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake, and shatter them on the heads of all the people; and those who are left of them, I will kill with the sword, not one of them shall flee away; not one of them shall escape.’ “
Seeing the devastation of Haiti has shaken my faith–I believe in the right way. The God of the Old Testament IS hard to understand. And I don’t think we New Testamenters should be quick to turn away from these vivid, vast descriptions of God’s wrath. For there will come a day when “there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of creation until now, and never will be.” (Mark 13:20). Lest I miss the full context, here is verse 21: “And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being will be saved.”
Oh Christians! Let the tragedy of Haiti grieve you. Give what you can, pray, be sorrowful for our fellow humans who suffer endlessly. Act not in judgment, Pat Robertson, but with the uttermost compassion.
And be solemn, knowing that the God we serve is a God who “touches the earth and it melts” (Amos 9:5). Let your image of the God of love be confronted by the truth that He is also a God who cannot dwell with evil. This, this is the cost of our sin, and the cost that Christ has saved us from.