I am blessed by the incredible response by churches and Christian ministries across America to the suffering souls in Haiti. But sadly a big part of the media coverage is focusing on some remarks by television commentator Pat Robertson. Mr. Robertson speculated on why Haiti has suffered so much over the years. He believes that the country sold their soul to gain freedom from the French and that their nation is cursed because of that pact with the devil.
I will not resort to the kind of comments I am reading elsewhere about Pat Robertson. I do think his timing was terrible. Our entire focus as followers of Christ should be aid and prayer for our brothers and sisters in that country. To be fair, Robertson said that he prayed that out of this disaster a spiritual renewal would take place in Haiti. Still, I wonder how anyone can say definitively why suffering takes place.
The Old Testament offers an interesting story about a place that was more degenerate than any place in ancient history. But God was willing to show compassion even to a city as overwhelmingly wicked as Sodom.
"For the sake of only ten, I won't destroy the city." (Genesis 18, The Message)
I don't know if Haiti can be mentioned in the same breath as Sodom and Gomorrah. And how about the prophet Jonah? He wanted judgment on Ninevah and ran away instead of taking the message of repentance and redemption to a city that he wanted judged. Jonah was ticked off that his personal revenge might be thwarted.
I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness! (Jonah 4, The Message)
So here is my unsought advice to all of us. Get out of the prophet business. In the Old Testament the prophets had a high standard.
"But any prophet who fakes it, who claims to speak in my name something I haven't commanded him to say, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die." (Deut 18, The Message)
Now that is a strong deterrent to shooting from the hip. You could not follow up a false prophecy with a big smile and a proclamation of "just kidding"!
Here is my concern when comments like this attract media attention. Pat Robertson becomes the face of Christianity to many people. I certainly hope he did not mean to have that happen. When I try to use my meager skills to point people toward Jesus things like this come up. What about that Pat Robertson guy? Do you believe the things that he says? Is that the God you are representing? Do you think God is punishing Haiti? My answer is that I simply don't know and I don't think Pat Robertson does either.
I don't have a big agenda. I want to introduce people to Jesus. Trying to assign blame for a natural disaster does not help me model the saving grace of the Lord Jesus to people who are desperate for hope.
Unfortunately in our soundbite news cycle high profile "spokesmen" become the face of Christianity. I want the face of Christianity to be Jesus. And I want His followers to be the humble hands and feet of God to love, heal and restore the aching souls in Haiti.
Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com.