When we as God’s people ponder the tragedy that rocked Haiti a week ago, many of us are left with confusion and lots of unanswered questions. The point of this post isn’t to answer all of our questions or take away all of our confusion, but what I hope to do is point out some biblical “handles” that we can hold onto as we contemplate the earthquake and the aftermath. In times like this, the Scriptures call us to remember at least 5 things:
Number One: God was in complete control over the earthquake. The Bible assures us that there are no “natural” disasters. The Scriptures make it plain that all things happen according to God’s perfect and holy will – yes, even tragedies like last week’s earthquake. Amos 3:6 makes this clear when it asks the following rhetorical question:
“Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?” (presumed answer: Of course not.)
Number Two: Jesus, the divine-human King of the world, judges rebellions nations. Psalm 2 prophesies the reign of God’s Messiah over all nations. The New Testament tells us in numerous passages that Jesus took up the reign that Psalm 2 predicted in the first century – in the middle of history. In other words, Christ is ruling the nations, on His Father’s behalf, now.
But Psalm 2 doesn’t just contain predictions of Christ’s present reign; it also contains warnings to the present rulers of the earth, threatening them with Christ’s in-time judgments if they don’t submit to His rule:
Psalm 2:10-12a – 10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Jesus judges nations whose leaders reject His rule. This judgment can play out in a variety of ways: foreign invasion, economic collapse, disaster, etc. Was what happened to Haiti a specific manifestation of such judgment? We can never be sure. And we shouldn’t pretend to be. Bible-books like Job make clear that sometimes calamity strikes for reasons unknown to all of us. But we can say that what happened last week might very well have been an example of Jesus pouring out His just wrath upon a nation. He has done so before and can do so again.
How should we react in light of such a terrifying possibilities? See number three.
Number Three: God’s people must never gloat when others are struck with tragedy; rather they must be humbled and strive to remain faithful to God. Luke 13:1-5 reveals to us what our responses should be to tragedy, even tragedies that smell of divine retribution. Rather than think we are somehow less worthy of such judgments, we must remember our own need to remain faithful, lest we too come under similar judgments. Romans 11:22 makes a similar point when it says:
Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.
Number Four: We must remember that Christians often suffer when God strikes a nation with tragedy. This was true for the Jerusalem church in the first century when the Lord struck Israel with a famine. The believers, who were not being judged, were also struggling with a lack of food. That’s why the Apostle Paul wrote letters to Gentile churches pleading with them to lend prayer and financial support to their fellow saints in Judea.
Clearly the above 1st-century-example guides us as we seek to minister to God’s people in Haiti who have also been affected by the earthquake. We must pray for them as if we ourselves were suffering with them. And we should ask God to move us to be generous financially, giving in ways we know will be a help to our fellow believers.
And finally, Number Five: Let us pray that our God will show mercy to the people of Haiti. Let us ask Him to do such a work in that country so that in a hundred years it is no longer known for voodoo, corruption, and poverty but rather, because of the gospel, for righteousness, peace, and blessing. May God lead the people of Haiti to take refuge in the mercy of our world’s good and merciful King. I’ll end by quoting the last verse of Psalm 2 in its fullness:
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.