With every major disaster, a pastor somewhere in Christendom cites the reason as judgement from God. I believe God judges nations and peoples, yet I’ve always felt uncomfortable to hear a pastor boldly claim that a particular catastrophic event is the direct result of a particular sin. This is very presumptuous of a pastor to say. Albert Mohler writes, in an article, “Does God hate Haiti?”:
The arrogance of human presumption is a real and present danger. We can trace the effects of a drunk driver to a car accident, but we cannot trace the effects of voodoo to an earthquake—at least not so directly. Will God judge Haiti for its spiritual darkness? Of course. Is the judgment of God something we can claim to understand in this sense—in the present? No, we are not given that knowledge. Jesus himself warned his disciples against this kind of presumption.1
I agree with Albert Mohler. It is very dangerous to presume to know God’s reason for allowing something to happen. In the Old Testament, God sent prophets with specific pronouncements of judgements, describing exactly what will happen and who it will happen to. In this case, we have no such previous proclamations from God.
Consider my servant Job
God also use tragedies in ways other than for judgement. In the Old Testament, we see Job, who was struck with many tragedies for a purpose other than judgment. His friends were very presumptuous to think that the reason was judgment of sin.
I know that Haiti, as a nation, does not have the credentials of Job; but they do have churches with faithful missionaries who are working to bring spiritual light into darkness. Do you think that God would judge them along with the rest of the nation? In the Old Testament we do see that the remnant, chosen by God, who were faithful to God, sometimes suffered because of the judgements that fell on the nation Israel. But without a prophet who proclaims the judgement, do you want to risk being like one of Job’s friends? I don’t.
Good Samaritan Compassion
Jesus’s story of the Good Samaritan is a good example of responding with compassion and not judgment.
And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Lk 10:35–37)
Why did this man on the side of the road get robbed? Were the robbers sent by God to judge this man for his wickedness? Jesus doesn’t have us ask ourselves any of these questions. Yes, God is in control over all situations, and He is sovereign over every event. For reasons not entirely clear to us, God allowed this man to be robbed. But the response that God requires is love and compassion. He wants us to stop, see the suffering and respond by helping.
Notice that the good Samaritan did more than just help him get back on the road. The good Samaritan adjusted his schedule to bring the man to an inn, care for him throughout the night, and provide money for extended care. This is very difficult for most of us, including me, yet this is the sacrificial love that is required of those who wish to love our neighbor the way Jesus asks of us.
Stop and Respond
Today is a day to stop what you are doing and respond by helping. Today our neighbor is effectively, on the side of the road. They are in between places of significance, on a small island, the side of the road. Be a good neighbor, stop, see the suffering2 and respond by helping3.
1. Albert Mohler Blog, “Does God Hate Haiti?”, http://bit.ly/4Eevdo
2. Washington Post has a photo gallery that really brought the disaster home for me.If you feel disconnected, like you aren’t seeing the problem. Go here: http://bit.ly/6GGJzb
3. World Magazine has a list of agencies working Haiti that are effective and trustworthy. http://www.worldmag.com/webextra/16328