Did God punish Haiti?

Have you ever heard somebody say, “If God truly existed, he wouldn’t allow people to suffer”? Many times, this sentiment is expressed by those who have tasted of suffering in their life. Losing a loved one, living through extreme hardship, or experiencing severe disappointment has made them feel abandoned, or even punished. They have wondered, “WHY?”

They ask: Why do people suffer? What good does it do anyway? How can God allow it? Is he not merciful? If he truly loved us, wouldn’t he help?

They are desperate pleas. The sufferings we feel are sometimes so exquisite that we see nothing but the pain. And sometimes that pain makes us bitter. We even begin to think that our lot in life cannot be expressed in words, because surely, we are the only ones to have ever experienced such a tragedy.

From the New Testament, 1 Peter 4:12 — “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.”

Every. Single. Person… WILL EXPERIENCE SUFFERING in this life. I have. You have. If we haven’t yet, we will. The types of suffering may be different. But we will all experience it.

Is there a reason for the suffering? Is it because God doesn’t love us? Is it because we are being punished? As human beings we need things to make sense. We need answers.

There has been a huge outcry recently about statements made by the TV Evangelist, Pat Robertson. He claimed on his show, The 700 Club, that the horrible earthquake in Haiti was because of a pact with the Devil, and is just one more example of a curse upon that land. Shepard Smith of Fox News called him out on it. I agree with Shepard.

Other folks looking for answers to the destruction have cited the extreme corruption in the Haitian government, reminding us that much of the aid in past days never made it to the citizens who needed it because of their greed.

Perhaps, then, we can say at least they deserved it? Certainly they were the wicked people who lost their lives in the earthquake. But what of the innocents who lost their lives? Are there survivors who suffer now through no fault of their own?

Let me take you somewhere else for a moment. Fast forward to events predicted by The Revelation of Saint John in the New Testament.

Revelation 8:18 “By these three was the third part of men killed…”

There are plenty of bible scholars who say that this means 1/3 of the entire population of earth. Calculated loosely, that is more than 2 billion souls. How big is the number 2 billion? That is 10,000 times more than the number of people who died in the horrible 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. More than 230,000 perished. With current totals and predictions by at least one news outlet, the death toll for the earthquake in Haiti could almost match it.

I am not trying to diminish the heart breaking tragedy of Haiti. Or the tsunami of 2004. I am trying to make a point about sheer numbers. Can you even imagine having a global disaster where 1/3 of the earth’s population is destroyed? It is terrible and frightening.

Tell me: What will be the state of mind for many people on the day in which that particular massive destruction takes place? Will God cease to exist for those who survive? Will there be those who will finally give up, saying, “God is dead, otherwise this would not have happened“?

Will all of those who die deserve it because they are counted among the wicked? What about the innocents? Will they all be spared?

I want to share my own personal belief with you on these matters. Whereas I am sure there were those who were in no way prepared to meet their God on Tuesday, January 12th, there were also many, many people who were blessed by that reunion. God loves His children. The poor who have struggled, the hungry, the oppressed–all have found rest in His arms. Even the most wicked men and women–those who were not following His commandments–experienced a taste of mercy by leaving this difficult existence, if nothing else by being prevented from sinning further.

As time goes on, there will be further tragedies. Both the wicked and the righteous will suffer in them. Why? Because God wants our hearts. He also wants us to be prepared for whatever may come. If we are obedient, and we love the Lord, does it really matter if we are called home to our Heavenly Father?

What matters is what we have become.

1 Peter 4:19 — Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

Let us become like Christ. Like Him, let us aid the poor. Let us love our fellowman. Let us also repent of all our uncleanness. Then let us worship our God, and never turn our back on him, even in those times when we don’t readily see His loving hand directing our lives.

And then, if we are taken, we will still find ourselves in the loving embrace of a Father who will say: “Welcome home. Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

That is the type of homecoming which I look forward to. May I live in such a way that I will be counted among those worthy of such a heavenly reception.

If you would like to donate to a charity in which 100% of the funds are used for aid to the people of Haiti (not a cent is used for administration or proselyting), please consider donating to the LDS Church Humanitarian Relief Efforts fund.


Photo courtesy of Logan Abassi, posted on Wikipedia, (Creative Commons license)

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Did God punish Haiti? — 12 Comments

  1. Thank you, Daron. I was just having this conversation with my teenager who asked the question. Interestingly, I have been studying the story of Lamoni's people, burying their weapons, and still being slaughtered. Their deaths were lamented, but survivors took some comfort in knowing they met their God.
    Still, it's been a hard thing to see the destruction of so many lives, deserving or not.

  2. This makes me think again on one of my current favorite scriptures.

    Doctrine and Covenants Section 122 verse 7. And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

  3. There is absolutely no evidence for any god so "punishment" is impossible. I think it most likely that this disaster was caused by: human greed resulting in badly made buildings; lack of expenditure on infrastructure and public services by corrupt government; forcing the poor to live where nobody else wants to be; and plate tectonics.

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Daron. It inspires me to want to live my life better, so when my time comes, I'm ready.

  5. I once asked an Institute teacher why, if God was compassionate, He allowed Jesus to suffer on the cross. If God is all good, how can he allow suffering?

    His answer has stayed with me since: "You are assuming that suffering is bad." Suffering is unpleasant. We all wish we could avoid it. We feel sorrow for those who experience it. But without suffering, we could not recognize joy or happiness, because we have nothing to compare it to. And the suffering of others allows those of us blessed enough not to be suffering now an opportunity to help, which lifts us all.

    The sadness and misery that Haiti is experiencing is not new to them, it is just more acute right now. They have been in miserable poverty under a corrupt government for decades. Many died in this disaster, yet how many more needless deaths were there before the earthquake? This earthquake has brought the world to their door with offers of help. Suffering brings strength, hope, and change, without fail.

    Let's be some of those who bring lasting help and change, now that Haiti's suffering has finally been noticed.

  6. Thank you for this post. I have seen in the blogosphere over the last few days some very hate filled posts on the subject.

    I agree with the commentor who said we need to remember that suffering is not always bad. I know that I personally have suffered more in the last two years than I have in my entire life up until now. At the same time, despite horrible things happening, I am also more blessed than ever before and more sure of a God who loves me and a knowledge that I am strong enough to face hard and scary things.

    My prayers are with the people of Haiti in the midst of the aftermath.

  7. I think to say that God "allowed this to happen" or that he is "punishing Haiti" or Thailand or New Orleans or any other place struck by a natural disaster, is a dangerous generalization. God is very aware of His creations… this earth AND His children. He is aware of the earth's aging, its shifting of tectonic plates, the choices people and governments make. Things are going to happen, 1) because laws of gravity, heat, structure must be obeyed under various changes, and 2)because men are agents unto themselves. The scriptures and prophets have warned, and God's hand may or may not be recognized in what was prevented, but HERE IS THE THING: We decide what to do with it. Are our minds and hearts open to reaching beyond our comprehension, to finding some deeper truths in our lives here, amidst destruction?
    I am reminded that Christians are often referred to as "narrow-minded". There is an example of that in Daron's post- Haiti happened because of a pact with Satan. Not all Christians are that narrow-minded. But a lot of people are.
    Right now, I imagine there are a lot of Haitians hoping that if there is a God, that He show them mercy. It's my hope they can feel that. Through miracles, yes, but also through us.

  8. Questions like that always make me sad. The "why" doesn't matter half so much as the "what now?" For me, I hope I'm working on the what now a whole lot more than looking to the why.

  9. Daron, I'm a first time reader of your blog. I found you through "Authentic Blogger". I don't believe in a God who punishes. I think God only knows love & compassion. We have trials in our life to grow. It's sad when people die in tragic situations like this but I love to look at what it does for the world…it brings us all together & brings us closer to love & understanding. it is through love that we can ever find true love.

    Hugs,

    Bill

  10. Daron, thanks for this post. I agree. We learn so much from suffering through trials. If there were no suffering, compassion would be very hard to learn. I’m certain that God is watching over Haiti.

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