Pat Robertson, Haiti, and Why Things Happen

January 21, 2010 at 2:28 am 1 comment

Note: This appears on the front page of this week’s issue of Messiah Messenger.

On January 13, Pat Robertson stated on The 700 Club that the earthquake and other negative events in Haiti’s recent history might be linked to a “pact with the devil” which allegedly was made by Haitians to secure their freedom from French occupation in the 19th century. While I have my doubts, I have no idea whether any “pact” was made by anyone, but Robertson has a history of making such comments. After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, he agreed with Jerry Falwell on The 700 Club that God had removed the protection around America because of the actions of some Americans. It should in fairness be noted that Robertson is urging prayer and material aid for Haitians and he did not suggest they should be condemned or that they deserved the disaster.

After every misfortune, disaster, or trouble, it is natural to ask ‘why?’ I believe it to be temptation to assign reasons for misfortunes, claiming to know God’s will by linking them to abnormal sinfulness or punishment for certain sinful acts. I think that many people give in to this temptation because they are uncomfortable and anxious with the question ‘How can a good God allow such evil, injustice, and tragedy?’ The question can also be asked the other way – if there are no consequences for being evil, then why be good? To silence these questions, all evil and misfortune must be shown to be somehow deserved and all sin must be punished with retribution in this life, lest God be shown to be neither good nor just.

The Bible gives the lie to such easy and convenient explanations. Job was a righteous man, and he defended his conduct to those who suggested that he must have committed sin to receive such terrible misfortunes. Psalm 73 is a meditation on the apparent success of the wicked. In John 9, Jesus encounters a man blind from birth. His disciples ask him whether his blindness is the fault of his own or his parents’ sin, and Jesus responds in the negative on both counts.

Why do natural disasters occur, why do people die ‘before their time,’ why is there unexplainable illness, tragedy and pain? Such questions are shrouded in mystery. We dare not try to justify what happens so that it ‘makes sense.’ God never justifies himself. He does not explain himself to Job, but he speaks to him, and that is what Job needs more than any explanation. Jesus does not give the blind man an explanation, but healing and Lordship. The most we can ever say about these things is that tragedy and disaster is part of a fallen world which still waits in hope for its final healing; that we can never claim to know why such-and-such should or should not have occurred; but that we can confidently say that in such a world God always has the capacity still to act for us to reveal his justice and love. In the last analysis, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8), and that is enough for us to confidently proclaim his just love even in the midst of unspeakable suffering and death.

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Entry filed under: Apologetics, interpretation, Psalms.

Art and Culture Sermon Epiphany 3

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Chris Wendel (@MrWendelYaYaa)  |  May 1, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    In Job, we see that after he prays for his friends’ misplaced wisdom, Job is once again blessed with the fortunes of material life. Could this be our desired response to misfortune or suffering? Of course with the foundation that God is in control, and beyond our comprehension.

    Reply

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