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Sunday, 17 January 2010

The Haitian earthquake.

I have been surprised that, following the violent earthquake off the coast of Haiti, the popular media have not been full of the usual questions that come in the aftermath of a natural disaster. "How could a supposed God of love and compassion, Who is all-powerful, allow such a tragedy to take place?", is the sort of question I had expected. The latest estimates speak of some 200 thousand deaths. Did they all deserve, after the poverty-stricken existence in a country that has been afflicted by corruption and weak government, extreme criminality, and the darkness of voodoo, to suffer such a catastrophic end to their lives?

I am reminded of the Tower of Siloam. Pontius Pilate had had some Galilean Jews murdered as they were sacrificing in the Temple in 1st century Jerusalem. This was reported to Jesus, Who asked if His informants thought that those who had been murdered were, somehow, worse sinners than other Galileans. Then, to ensure that they didn't get side-tracked by the obvious pre-meditation of that situation, He went on to ask if eighteen men who had died when the Tower of Siloam fell on them were the worst sinners in Jerusalem. (Luke 13:1-5). The implied answer, in both cases, is 'No!' However, the warning is given that all of us need to repent - to be ready for the day of our own physical death, that may well come when we least expect it!

It's interesting, of course, that such questions, today, seem to be asked by those in 'the West' who lead a relatively pampered lifestyle in which a shortage of rock-salt and grit for a couple of weeks of snow and ice is viewed by many as a national disaster! A letter on Ceefax, earlier this week, expressed the hope that people in the S.E. of England had watched the bulletins (from Haiti) before they had opened their curtains - to see what a real disaster looked like! Could it be that such an event, while not 'planned' by God; and not a punishment from God; is a test of faith for those who actually have one?!

Where is God? As always, He is right there, in the middle of the disaster, for those who seek Him. He is there to comfort the dying, and the bereaved; He is there, in His people, as they seek to alleviate the situation for the survivors; He is there, in His people, tending the injured. He is there, with the members of the persecuted Church in some fifty countries around the world.

And, of course, He was there in what could have been the greatest disaster in the history of the world. It happened, almost 2,000 years ago, at a place called Calvary when a Man hung on a cross, suffering unspeakable agony. He had done no wrong - even His enemies could not convict Him - and yet He died; and did so for you, for me, for every Haitian, for every person who has ever lived, or ever will live.

Like every other thinking person, I don't have a nice pat answer to that earthquake, that will satisfy everyone. I wish that I had. But I am totally convinced that God not only 'knew' that it would happen (not enough space in one post to go into the subject of time and eternity!), but that He is saddened by the loss of lives that had not been committed to Him, and that He is available to all who call upon His Name.

By the way, it is also interesting to note that such disasters do nothing to support the standard atheistic evolutionary teachings of some. It would seem that even modern scientific knowledge is unable to control, or even anticipate, such events. Entropy, not a steadily upward climb, continues to be the observable order of the day!

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