Editorial: Haiti, Horrors, and Hard Questions

The suffering in Haiti is overwhelming. We grieve. We give. We pray. And we ask “Why?” We do not have all the answers; or at least, we don’t have the complete answers. How do you explain a tsunami which makes a village disappear? How do you answer the skeptic who asks why God allows an earthquake that devastates an impoverished country and sends 200,000 people from the squalid and hopeless life they knew into an even more hopeless eternity? How do you explain the disasters which befall different countries throughout the world? If God is sovereign, loving, wise, and all-powerful, why do these things occur?

The atheist points to it as proof that the Christian God is a myth. But that only increases the tragedy, transforming it into a random event with no meaning and no possible direction.

The self-righteous moralist declares that it is God’s judgment on an ungodly nation. While God does judge nations, who is to say that an impoverished nation that has not heard the gospel is more worthy of judgment than the decadent society in which we live, which has known and rejected the gospel? Please do not think that God finds delight in the death of any person. How could God watch men perish, men whom He made to enjoy and to enjoy Him, men for whom He gave His Son – how could He find pleasure in the death of men (Ezek 33:11)? Every reminder of the effects of sin must bring a fresh grief to the heart of God.

No, answers are not easy. God is sovereign; but He does not cause evil. In His sovereignty, He uses all events, even those perpetrated by evil men, for His ends.

But think behind the question for just a moment and consider some implications. If God did intervene to prevent earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters, how would we know? Is it possible that God does intervene at times and no one has any way of knowing what might have happened? But this is not the real issue.

When men challenge us by asking where God was when a 7.0 quake leveled Haiti, what are they actually saying? What men would like is a kind, benevolent, paternalistic deity Who intervenes to remove all the inconveniences in life, but not to halt their sin. Do they want a God Who is actively intervening in our world today? Do they want a God Who will punish them for cheating on income taxes, ignoring a red light when it is convenient, acting immorally to satisfy lust, lying to protect self, and a host of other sins? But, someone objects, you cannot equate small sins with acts of murder and mayhem. We fail to see that each sin – regardless of its size in our eyes – is a challenge to God’s authority and holiness, a charge against God’s wisdom, a contradiction to God’s care, and a denial of God’s power. Each and every sin has within it the claim to self-appointed deity. We cannot fathom the awfulness of even one sin.

So do men really want God to intervene? We live in a broken world. They would like to have a cosmic wealthy grandparent Who is always kind and turns a blind eye to their own evil.

Every tragedy is a reminder that things are not right, they are not as God made them, intended them, or will finally rectify them. If God were to intervene, where is He supposed to draw a line and allow men to continue with their willful lives, yet prevent the tragedies? In grace, He does not intervene but is long-suffering (2 Pet 3:9). Sin continues in our world; and the results of sin are allowed to continue. God is waiting. But He will intervene someday. He will fix our broken world. Faith rests in God.