Christian Counseling - Haitian Tragedy or Punishment?

Yesterday, CNN and CBS News reported Christian leader, Pat Robertson (700 Club), as saying the Haitian people were being punished by God by the recent 7.2 earthquake that took the lives of an estimated 20,000 to 100,000 people from a nine million population. Robertson said the reason for the curse of God was due to a Haitian pact with the devil, who agreed to free them from French rule, if they served him. The Haitians gained their freedom in 1804.

What many of us are left with are questions and, if you believe Robertson, perhaps a negative or judgmental attitude toward these people in thinking they got what they deserved. Some of the questions are:

1. Do not all prophetic utterances (telling others about God's actions, beforehand or after) require a testing of the spirit?
2. Who exactly was responsible for and agreed to this pact?
2. Why would God and has He ever waited five generations to visit punishment on the great-great-great-grandchildren for the sins of those who made such a pact?
3. What is the impact of such interpretations on the world's view of God and conservative Christianity?

Admittedly, it's not always easy to discern whether or not people are right or wrong in their views of God's actions in the world, especially when we see scriptural evidence that could support those views. We know from the Bible that God punishes non-believers and chastises Christians for their sins. Robertson's understanding of God punishing evil in the world isn't in question, but his application must be scrutinized. Did God do this to the Haitians? This is similar to Robertson's belief that terrorism on American soil is related to our country's abortion of about 40 million fetuses. Do you also believe that?

People in Old Testament times knew victories, defeats, punishments and rewards came from God or gods--someone beyond just themselves. Today, it appears the majority of earth's people don't know or understand this. Discipline or punishment without understanding is useless; it can't accomplish its intended purpose--a change in behavior and heart. The only exception to this is the final future judgment of God where a person's change or reconciliation is not the goal. Therefore, what would be God's point in continuing this practice for people living on the earth?

Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 6:15,16 reveal the people of the earth will come to know that the tribulations during that time are related to Him. They will know because they will see "the sign of the Son of the sky." It is then they mourn and hide themselves from God, or, for some, turn to God. Subsequent chapters in Revelation explain the remaining seal, trumpets, woes and bowls of wrath are His punishments, which are unmistakable to earth's inhabitants. God wants those who suffer under His punishments or chastisements to have clear knowledge and understanding about what and why. Therefore, I can't give assent to Robertson's application of God's justice against the Haitian people by way of this devastating earthquake.

For those who are steadfast in a contrary belief, let's assume the earthquake was God's punishment, what would He do next? Would He abandon the people? Would He be without pity or compassion for them? Would God avoid remembering those He created, loved and with whom He wanted a relationship? We have ample scriptural references that express post-curse grace.

By definition, grace is not getting what we all deserve--life without God or hell, because we are all sinners. In Jeremiah Chapter 3, God divorces Israel, but continues to engage them by promising remarriage if they turn to Him. Genesis Chapters 8 and 9 tell the great and terrible story of the death of all life that draws breath (at least upon the land), Save Noah, his family and the ark's load of animals, birds and creeping things. This causes Him grief and He vows never to do again. In 9:15 it says the sign of the rainbow in the sky will lead Him to remember His covenant. But, the greatest example of post-curse grace is His sending Jesus to live among us and reconcile us with God.

Even if the earthquake was God's curse on the people, He will not turn away forever from a people in severe need, and neither should we. This is a time for our Christian witness to shine like the noonday sun. It is a time to help in whatever ways we personally determine--prayers or a gift of words, time or money. Should you be inclined by God, you can visit the following watchdog site and choose a Christian organization that can direct your resources appopriately:

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