Note: This essay is from Jim Denison's daily God Issues email. I thought this was a very effective, biblical response to Pat Robertson's comments regarding the reason for the disaster in Haiti. If you're not aware of what Robertson said, the comments are included in this essay. Here's Jim Denison's response, without further comment from me:
Haiti and the devil (part one)
Is God punishing Haiti for worshipping the devil? I was preparing this morning's essay on the crisis in Haiti when I heard the story on the morning news: Pat Robertson has claimed that Haiti made a pact with Satan for which they are now facing the wrath of God.
I immediately changed topics to investigate the story. My research on the historical background behind this alleged pact is taking longer than I imagined, so I'll give you what I'm learning in tomorrow's essay. For today, let's consider Robertson's statement in biblical perspective.
We begin with Rev. Robertson's actual statement as I transcribed it from the video clip: "Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third or whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.' True story. And so the devil said, 'Okay, it's a deal.' And they kicked the French out, you know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor." He went on to contrast Haiti's poverty with the Dominican Republic's prosperity and called on the Haitians to turn to God.
I need to make four biblical responses.
First, God loves the suffering people of Haiti. He cares passionately for the poor and oppressed. His word tells us, "He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done" (Proverbs 19:17). The Lord said of King Josiah, "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" (Jeremiah 22:16).
The alleged pact with the devil in 1791 would put our Father on the side of slavery and Satan on the side of those seeking freedom. The reverse is actually the case. Satan is a "murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44), a thief who "comes only to steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10) and seeks to make us "slaves to sin" (Romans 6:17). Satan enslaves-God liberates.
Second, the Haitians are suffering because we are all fallen people living on a fallen planet. In the Garden of Eden, this tragedy would not have occurred. In God's perfect plan there would have been no Hurricane Katrina, no tsunami in southeast Asia, no cancer or heart disease or earthquakes. But when we fell into sin, the entire planet was affected. As a result, "the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time" (Romans 8:22). The earthquake is not the Haitians' fault. God cares for their pain as his own.
Third, God's people must respond. We are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12), his hands and feet. He will help the suffering Haitians through us. Give to help the relief effort; go if you can; pray fervently. Don't speculate on the causes of this crisis-respond personally and practically.
Last, I must state that Robertson's statement is unbridled audacity. Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, told a television reporter that it is "arrogance" to claim that we can interpret such events as divine judgment. Franklin Graham told the media that "I do not agree" with the comments, and was right to add, "God loves the people of Haiti." As we will see tomorrow, Robertson should have checked his sources before making his allegation. Scripture calls us to "test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).
Pray now for the Haitians. Ask God to redeem this horrific tragedy for his glory and their good. Know that God is love (1 John 4:8), and prove his compassion with your own. This is the word, and the call, of God.