Haiti, My Beloved
- Friday, January 22, 2010
The average person may find it difficult to remember what he or she was doing on Jan. 12, 2010, at 4:53 p.m. EST. For those who were on the island of Hispaniola in the country of Haiti, their memories remain quite vivid because of a tragedy that has left our whole world stunned and speechless. This horrific event has impacted all human beings, but for residents of Haiti and Haitians abroad, it is particularly painful. It is painful because most Haitians have this love-hate relationship with their country of origin. They hate the inefficiency of its political and social systems, but they love it too much to watch it gradually deteriorate.
I, for one, have been grieving since that fateful day because my tie with Haiti goes back to the day of my birth. Not only was I born there, but I grew up in Port-au-Prince, which has been the focus of many news reports for the past five days. The years of my childhood and adolescence provided ample opportunities for me to be well acquainted with sorrow and poverty. I was a young boy when we had to skip meals for a while because of lack of funds. I was there when the Duvalier regime ended in 1986. I lived through the long embargo of the early '90s which claimed many lives for lack of food. Yet, through it all, my mom taught me to rely on God and the truth of His Word. The following verse has been a source of great comfort to me:
Psalm 125:1, "Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever."
Those who knew me when I was in college will tell you that I used to sing a particular song quite often. On Jan. 5, 2010, I was asked to sing something impromptu to a medical team that was visiting northern Haiti. Little did I know how prophetic the words of "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" were going to be.
"Why should I be discouraged?
And why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart be lonely?
And long for heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion
My constant friend is He
His eye is on the Sparrow
And I know He watches me.
"I sing because I'm happy
I sing because I'm free
His eye is on the Sparrow
And I know He watches me."
If I were to ask you the innocent "How's it going?" question, what would your answer be? Experience tells me that most people are quick to say, "Good, fine, OK." Those more refined will probably say, "Very well, thank you." There is one response that I have been training myself to use, and it comes from preacher and writer C.J. Mahaney in his book, The Cross-Centered Life. It is this: "I'm doing much better than I deserve."
I will spare you the controversies that result from my use of said response, but let me tell you why I choose it. It provides a clear and accurate picture of me. In public you see this body, you hear this singing voice, you are aware of my credentials, you see my relationship with my spouse and daughters, you hear of my involvement with short-term missions. Those closest to me may tell you of my rigorous schedule and the discipline with which I attack it daily. They may tell you that I cook, that I spend time with my family, that I read my Bible regularly, that I like to pray, and, on the other hand, they may certainly tell you where my faults lie, especially where, when and how I've let them down through the months and years we've spent together.
However, there is one person who can depict a vivid portrait of me and, I assure you, you will not like what you see. You'll see that I am a sinner of the worst kind and that I deserve death. You will find that I battle with irritability, impatience, ingratitude, entitlement, pride and idolatry. Each one of those sins crucifies the Lord Jesus anew, and the punishment that I deserve, according to the Holy Scriptures, is God's wrath or hell. Thanks be to God who, through the blood of Jesus, took my spiritual bankruptcy and replaced it with an inheritance of gargantuan proportions. He gave me the power to become His child, a joint heir with Christ in the kingdom of light, a forgiven and loved man, a servant with a new purpose of living.
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