Haiti, My Beloved
- Friday, January 22, 2010
Despite the wonderful 20-20 focus of hindsight generously provided by scientists, no one could have suspected that Haiti was going to sink further down into misery. Nonetheless, Port-au-Prince and its surrounding towns have been flattened, looking like plates of partially eaten pancakes at an IHOP or Denny's. A nation that was already at the bottom of the Western Hemisphere's economic ladder has been trampled underfoot. Yet, instead of the barrage of such questions as, "Why Haiti? Why do bad things happen? Where is God? Is there a God? How will Haiti ever recover?" we have been instructed to "be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for us in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:1618).
You say, "What?" and I say, "I know." A terrible tragedy just happened, and we're supposed to be joyful, prayerful and grateful? I wish I could say that God's Word had provided a list of exceptions like the Civil War, the sinking of the Titanic, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK, the wars that killed innocent people, the Jewish Holocaust, Vietnam, 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina. If no such provision was made, perhaps emotional turmoil might be a consideration when dealing with the death of a child or a parent, a disgruntled boss, a rebellious youth, a nagging woman, a stubborn guy, a scandal, marital unfaithfulness, embezzlement, bankruptcy, a load of debt, a dwindling 401k, cancer, and the list goes on and on. The truth is we have been taught to think that we deserve better. Better life, better circumstances, better food, better health, better family, better country, better everything. And so, when a tragedy hits, we are left thinking of what went wrong. This attitude reflects the arrogance that we know better than God what we deserve.
I have yet to hear of a tragedy that was not swift, heart-wrenching and mind-boggling. It is usually a very large hit for all those concerned and, whether people like it or not, the whole world is affected. Why, you ask? It is because ever since Adam and Eve were thrown out of Eden, human beings have barely changed. We all must work for food, find shelter, take care of our family, and desire security (meaning we fear death). When something comes our way and disturbs any one of those wants, we feel infringed upon and our spirit goes into what I call agita mode. There is no peace, no comfort, no hope, and no stability. Job says it best in Chapter 3:29, "I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil."
So it is normal for a human being to mourn in the wake of a catastrophe. After Job was hit hard, he tore his robe and mourned for his dead children. However, in his mourning, Job kept a healthy perspective on his position in life. He realized that all he ever had belonged to God anyway and so he chose to worship God in Job 1:21, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."
You see, Haiti has seen its share of destruction. Today, as I speak, there are dead bodies peppered all over the place while throngs of desolate and desperate people are going past them in search of much-needed water, food, shelter and loved ones. The earthquake was not particularly choosy, counting among its victims fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, teachers, mentors, Haitians, Americans, Brazilians, French, Canadians and many more. I am connected to it, you are too because you are alive and a human being.
Your knowledge of this situation is evidence that the faces and stories of those immediately affected have caused us to join in the mourning of this significant Haitian holocaust. We mourn for every family lost and/or torn apart. I mourn over my cousin, Obicson, who went to work on Tuesday and minutes before his work day was over, he went missing, his wife has lost both of her legs, and their four children have been taken to a boarding house. My Facebook status update on Tuesday told the world that I was in painful tears for the crumbling of my hometown and the death of my people. Your words of encouragement showed that you, too, shed tears whether visible or not. We mourn together and we weep for Haiti.
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