"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:9-13
As I have watched the unfathomable human tragedy in Haiti over the last couple of days, my mind and heart can't help but be stirred to think about many things. I won't detail all the things that have gone on in my head and heart, but I realize that there is something that everyone has in common in these situations - we most often ask the question "Why?" Maybe more specifically, we ask the question "Why, God?"
I wish I had an answer for you. I don't really.
Some have offered answers. One Christian broadcaster went so far as to say that God brought this on the people of Haiti because they made a deal with the devil when they gained their independence from France. Another broadcaster has talked of how our President will use this tragedy for political gain. I think both responses couldn't be farther from the point, nor relevant to the immediate human need that exists in Haiti. To be honest, I wish both of these folks would have just shut up about all this other stuff and used their platforms to encourage people to get involved in helping the people of Haiti. They can talk about all the other irrelevant stuff later.
What I suggest to people to do in these situations is to ask, "What would God want me to do right now?" Maybe you are to pray. Maybe you are to contribute financially to an aid agency. Maybe, when it is accessible, you are to go over to volunteer in the aftermath. I don't know what it might be for you, but we can't close our ears to the incredible pain of human need.
Here in our faith community, we are leveraging people and resources to assist in the near term. We have a team of people on medical mission who are in the Dominican Republic (it shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti), and another team set to leave tomorrow morning. It is possible that some of our second team will adjust their schedule and make an effort to get into Haiti. Either way, we are still funneling resources (money and supplies) to the needed organizations on the ground in Haiti. If you are part of our faith community, you will hear details about that on Sunday - if you are not, then I am sure you are thinking about ways you can participate in the alleviation of suffering in Haiti.
Action is required first, so that's why I mention it first. But action will give way to contemplation at some point, and the questions about life, God, humanity, suffering, evil, and good will all come to the forefront of people's minds. When they do, I hope you are ready to point them in the right direction.
Should you need some help with that, I have tried to address the topic before (in the aftermath of a local tragedy - the crashing of a commercial airplane into our community in February of 2009 that killed all 50 people on board as well as the owner of the home into which the plane crashed). You can find that discussion here: http://thechapel.com/onlineviewing/?p=297.
At the end of the day, I don't fully understand all the workings of God in the world, or the workings of evil. But one thing I do know - that the cross of Jesus Christ stands as the revelation of God's character, and His unparalled love for humanity. If you wonder where God is in all of this suffering, look no further than the cross. Once you experience the reality of that kind of love offered for you, it will move you to action to show that love to humanity.