When a tragedy like last week's earthquake and today's large aftershock in Haiti happens people invariably as how God could let something like that happen. This is not a refutation of Pat Robertson's drivel. I don't think his statements deserve any attention. But I was thinking about God letting something like this happen.
The first thing I thought about was, just how much would we appreciate God's intervention in our lives? Do we really want God to stop every poor choice we make? Is some mysterious force supposed to prevent humans from settling in any part of the world that might be prone to a natural disaster? What natural forces would we expect God to prevent? We don't even know how tectonic movements, volcanic activity, and weather phenomena act together with countless other natural forces to keep our world merrily spinning and humming and working.
Then, specifically with Haiti, what exactly is God responsible for in the current situation? How much less severe would the devastation and loss of life be if the people of Haiti hadn't suffered from decades of deplorable government under dictators and other incompetent rule? How many of the buildings that collapsed might have survived, saving hundreds or thousands of lives, if better building codes and practices would have been in effect and in place? How would the lives of the people in Haiti be better if their plight and poverty hadn't been ignored for so long by those in the world who are so much more fortunate?
And if God is supposed to take the blame for this tragedy, does he receive the credit for all the lives that weren't lost? Does God receive the credit for the help that is now on the way to save lives and help rebuild and give the people of Haiti a new start?
So, where is God in all this?
Well, if we look for God then we have to look to the cross. It's on the cross where God meets us. God makes himself present hidden in weakness, vulnerable, suffering, forsaken, dying. Because of Jesus we see God weeping where there is pain and alienation, rejoicing where there is wholeness and love. In Jesus God has entered the darkness of our existence to gather us into his reign of wholeness, unity, and peace.
If the world was ignoring the plight of the people of Haiti at this time it would be a double tragedy. I believe the heart of God breaks as the people of Haiti suffer and die and mourn. I also believe that the heart of God rejoices as so many around the world unite in this effort to show our love, compassion, concern, and help to that country at this time.
There are many worthy organizations helping in the relief efforts at this time. One that I hold up and support is Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) who are combining their efforts and resources with other churches in the organization Action by Churches Together (ACT) to provide relief and rehabilitation in Haiti. The Canadian government is matching donations made by individual Canadians by February 12, 2010. Contributions to the Haiti appeal may be made in the following ways:
1. Online at www.clwr.org/donate. In the process of completing the form, you will come across a pull-down menu that allows you to designate a specific project. Choose Haiti Earthquake.
2. By calling CLWR's toll-free number: 1.800.661.2597. If you do not need to use a toll-free line or are calling locally from the Winnipeg area, you can reach CLWR at 204.694.5602.
3. By sending a cheque made payable to CLWR to: CLWR, 302-393 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3B 3H6. Please indicate in your correspondence that you wish to contribute to the Haiti Earthquake Appeal.
4. Through ELCIC and LCC congregations by giving an offering designated to the Haiti Earthquake appeal.