THE TRAGEDY OF HAITI

THE TRAGEDY OF HAITI

Zechariah 14:4-5; Romans 8:18-22

Introduction

It has now been three weeks and five days since the mighty earthquake struck tiny Haiti on January 12, 2010.,  A school teacher in an orphanage was instructing his class.,  Suddenly the building began to tremble and shake violently.,  The terrified children scurried for the door as the,  teacher struggled for composure and shouted for them to flee. Thank God, they made it out!

The paved highway in the major part of the capital of Port-au-Prince began to pitch and sway, bucking up and down as security cameras recorded the terror of those moments.,  Soon the highway was a shambles,  as though some giant had kicked and torn it to shreds.

The National Cathedral, the pride of the capital city, with its majestic roof and ceiling in the shape of a giant cross, presenting a gorgeous aerial view,,  trembled and pitched,  before the entire roof collapsed making a mockery of this symbol of,  the pride of the tiny impoverished nation.

Government buildings constructed mostly of concrete and steel were quickly overwhelmed by the mighty power of this massive earthquake. Hundreds of them pancaked, floor after floor. Violent immediate death plunged many into eternity.,  The Richter Scale marked more than 7 which surely,  struck terror upon the seismologists who monitored it from numerous places around the globe.

So thousands of Haitians who worked in and around these large buildings were overcome in the awful fury of their collapse.   Known only to God are the names of this mass of humanity still buried under this crushing debris.

The Presidential Palace was not to escape this holocaust.,  Many parts of it lay in ruin after the short minutes of quaking it took to devastate the capital city and its environs.,  Haiti’s president was quickly made a homeless man.,  Before this evening of terror was over he was to have plenty of company.,  It is now believed that three million of the country’s nine million or so are now residents of the broken streets and applicants for a place in the tent cities donors are setting up for them.

The shantytown hovels where numberless thousands led squalid lives were unbelievable and tragic,  masses of ruin.

I was aghast at a large color photograph in the January 25, 2010 issue of Newsweek magazine.,  It pictured the front of a morgue.,  A man was making his way from the morgue and was sensitively stepping, again and again over a heartbreakingly large mass of corpses that lay on the ground but there was no room left for them inside.

On and on one might go with this catalog of human misery.,  I think it is fitting to,  remind ourselves of the statistics of death and privation it caused in terms closer to home for us in the good old U.S. of A.,  Let us move into south central Michigan, for example. Let us imagine what the statistics would look like due to a quake if one came in our area.

MICHIGAN’S EARTHQUAKE THAT HAS NOT COME— YET!

Had this mighty quake come in our area, it is possible to compare its
destructive force to some degree at least.

Therefore, in the mind’s eye we see what it did to our neighbors.,  All the residents of these cities combined would have been victims of a violent,  death: Hillsdale, Coldwater, Marshall, Jackson, Battle Creek and even Kalamazoo. No less than 200,000 people, souls for whom Jesus died, all gone in basically a moment of time.

Then there are the homeless.,  Imagine the size of the great metropolis of Detroit.,  In our imaginary setting of this earthquake’s power we see this city of Detroit where every citizen, every citizen, has one thing in common.,  Drive up and down the streets and boulevards, the freeways and side streets, the housing projects and,  businesses, the government buildings and the sprawling,  blue collar housing developments.,  Here is a city of well over a million persons and every single one of them is homeless.,  In fact as I speak news reports have stated that,  Haiti has an incredible,  three million such displaced persons. Such depth of human misery I am unable really to grasp.,  Even churches and mission stations were leveled, killing some of those who had come to Haiti to help.,  The United Nations Headquarters completely collapsed killing many hundreds who were there trying to make a difference in,  this poorest of nations.

DARE WE ASK GOD WHY,  THIS HAPPENED?

Not surprisingly, news magazines are already asking why.,  They are reminding us that God allowed this to happen.,  They openly ask: “Would a loving God allow the horrors of this enormous killer earthquake to happen.”

I find it interesting that secular venues that hardly ever give the subject of God a second thought or a first word are vocal in their offers of criticism.,  The article mentioned above in Newsweek depicted theologians and ministers as totally inept in coming to grips with any sensible explanation for the,  January 12th killer quake. The author’s glib remarks barely masked her scorn for the things of the Lord.

One minister, a television preacher, suggested the practice of voodoo in Haiti had led to a pact with “the devil” that had sealed the Haitans’ fate.,  In other words, because of their evil,  religion, God slew them hip and thigh.,  Many registered objection to this characterization of Haiti.

When sensible people look at this enormous visitation of death, destruction and human misery, I personally believe it is absolutely fair to ask ourselves, and even the Lord, “Why?” Let’s spend a few minutes asking the important “why” question.

We could simply do what one of our former presidents did when he was asked the “why” question about Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans and other parts of the South.,  When questioned, he merely replied, “God has nothing to do with natural disasters.”,  Then he got on his airplane and flew away. Is that true? Is God uninvolved into natural disasters?,  Is someone else the author?,  The simple answer is, of course not!

It would be difficult to convince the Egyptians that the ten plagues visited upon Pharoah and his people were not from God.,  Those hail stones that killed animals and people and ruined crops certainly got Pharoah’s attention. He knew they were from God.

The wind storm God sent for Elijah the prophet’s benefit was from the Lord.,  So was the earthquake that followed it (I Kings 19).,  God also sent a miraculous fire.,  They got Elijah’s attention.,  But the lesson he learned came when he listened to the “gentle whisper”,  (,  v. 12).,  God sent the gentle whisper too.

Upon the death of our Savior the earth experienced a great quake.,  It caused the Roman Army officer to confess that the “criminal” they had put to death was really, in the officer’s words, “the Son of God” (Mt. 27:54).

No, it won’t do to try to shift responsibility away from God for natural disasters, whether from fire, wind, disease or the earth itself. And He wouldn’t want us to miss the meanings they hold for us.,  Let’s take a deeper look at the terrible earthquake of January 12th and how God might be using it.,  I don’t happen to have some new revelation from God as to the “why” of this most devastating disaster, but I don’t need one.,  I have my Bible and the knowledge of what God has done in the past.,  We have His infallible Word and we know the Scriptures,  give us warnings to about the future too (I Co. 10:1-7: READ).

DARE WE IGNORE THE LESSONS OF THIS EARTHQUAKE?

Let me spend the last of my minutes today sharing with you five lessons I believe the Lord has used to remind me of things I need to learn from this awful holocaust.,  I consider it my Christian duty to learn and remember them.

Lesson one:,  The Privilege of Being an American

Within hours after the quake soldiers of an advance party of our 82nd Airborne Division were forming up to go the Haiti to prepare for the sending of an entire brigade there to help.,  The first pictures showed them helping and speaking kindly to these Haitian survivors.,  Troops from an African nation, also shown, were addressing some of the same Haitians with kicks from heavy boots and threats from rifle butts. The compassion of our soldiers was clearly evident.

Soon, our Marines were there.,  They were not threatening the citizens. They were passing out MREs (meals ready to eat, the same as they themselves,  eat while in the field).,  They were passing them out at the rate of 50 per minute!,  Our Marines are trained to kill their enemies when they are called upon to do so.,  I loved it when I saw them feeding our friends instead.,  The morale among our soldiers and marines there is sky-high the reporters say.

Our giant aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson quickly turned to this island nation.,  As soon as it was within range combat helicopters began flying in our military and,  relief supplies.,  She is now tied up just off the coast, a floating command station.

The beautiful USNS Comfort, the most sophisticated hospital ship in the world, got up steam and made for Haiti, a week’s sailing distance away.,  As soon as she got within helicopter range her flyers began rescuing horribly injured survivors from Haiti for surgery in her dozens of operating rooms. Soon her mighty crew of doctors, nurses, technicians and support personnel were overwhelmed with the need.,  On they work to this day!

By God’s grace I will never lose appreciation for my beautiful country. God made me an American.,  Thank you Lord Jesus Christ!

Lesson two: The Privilege of being a member of the Church which is His body.

Every believer is a part of the church universal.,  Oh, yes, we may be and should be a member of a certain local church.,  But, every believer is a member of the body of Christ, the church universal.

You say, how did that happen?,  It happened when you got saved.,  You joined the ranks of those covered by His blood.,  Some day you will live and reign with Him in His Kingdom, praise God almighty!

As a part of that great company of the redeemed kindly missionaries are going about bringing water, food, tents, clothing and counsel about our loving Savior.,  I am so grateful for them.

Ten Baptist missionaries have been trying to get Haitian children to the neighboring Dominican Republic.,  They say they have signed papers allowing them to do so. Somehow, apparently, not everything was done right.,  If they are criminals, their pictures from jail cells are deceiving.,  Their faces and demeanor and testimony betray the innocence of new-fallen snow.
The missionaries are in a jail in Port-au-Prince. They may be prosecuted.,  I’m betting their motives were pure. Let’s pray for a good outcome that honors the Lord.

World Vision is the largest distributor in the world of food from the World Food Programme.,  When the quake struck they had about 370 workers there.,  They began distributing aid minutes after the quake struck.,  Now there are 700 there.,  In Christ’s name they are bringing life-saving help to multiplied thousands.,  I’m glad I am a part of the Church of our Savior. Many years ago their founder, Mr. Bob Pierce, coined a phrase.,  He said, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”,  I know mine is.

Lesson Three: The Privilege to Know that God wants Haitians to be Saved

One man, in my hearing said, a day after the quake, “Those people in Haiti don’t do anything to help themselves. They just stand around.”,  I asked myself, “What would I do if I were in their shoes?”,  Well, for one thing, many don’t have any shoes.,  They don’t have clothes except for the soiled ones on their bodies.,  They don’t have a house to go to.,  They don’t have food to eat.,  They don’t have water to drink.,  They don’t have a place to get water,  to wash themselves.,  They don’t have toilets to use.,  They don’t have lights at night.,  They don’t have shelter from the sun glaring down its 100+ degree heat every day.,  They don’t have a Bible to tell them about God.,  They don’t have protection from the 5,000 hardened criminals roaming the streets of Port-au-Prince with machetes.,  And, finally, many have never heard the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ given even one time in their lives. I guess the man I heard was right: all they do is stand around or faint or die!

They don’t help themselves.,  Of course one of the things they also don’t have is tools and shovels.,  If they did they wouldn’t have to use their bare hands to try to dig their loved ones from under tons of concrete in which the earthquake buried them.,  Too bad. But, my Bible says God loves the world of men. Did you ever stop to think that God’s heart must be broken too?,  READ: Jn. 3:16-18, NIV.

16,  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17,  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

What a privilege to know that God wants Haitians to be saved.

Lesson Four:,  The Privilege to Knowing the truth that sin has awful consequences

But why would God allow Haiti to suffer such devastation?,  The answer if because of sin.,  The Bible teaches us that the very “ground” is cursed because of Adam and Eve’s sin (Ge. 3:17).,  Paul said the whole creation is in bondage because of sin with its decay, its groaning, its subjection to frustration (Ro. 8:18-23).

You mean, earthquakes come because there is sin?,  Absolutely.,  Do you think for one moment that God would have brought any earthquakes to the Garden of Even?,  Of course not.,  If I didn’t know the Bible, I wouldn’t know the terrible consequences of sin. God’s wrath is “being revealed from heaven against all godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Ro 1:18).

Could it be that the effects of sin extend even to the earth itself?,  I believe they do.,  The “creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Ro. 8:21). It will be liberated when Christ’s Millennial Kingdom comes.,  No wonder our Savior taught us to pray “Thy Kingdom come!” No wonder natural disasters take such a toll on life.,  All of nature is out of kilter because of sin.

Wow!   I’m glad I’m not in Haiti to suffer the wrath of God.,  Really!,  Me too, but I am afraid there is more.,  Please don’t misunderstand me.,  We can’t, any one of us, speak for the Lord, specifically why He allows this or that.,  I would never attempt that.,  On the other hand, when the Scriptures,  state that sin has consequences, it must be true.

We poor fallen men can easily rationalize: “Why can’t God just let bygones by bygones and take us all back into His good graces.,  Answer: He could if He were not holy.,  On the other hand, if He were not holy He would not be God.,  Therefore, sin has its consequences.,  To save all humanity, God had to do something. He did.

Sin nailed our dear Savior to the cross of Calvary.,  Sin breaks hearts, ruins marriages, perpetuates warfare, wrecks lives and,  plunges the whole civilization into failure.

When we face honestly,  God’s standard of holiness, we can understand why He says: ¦your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear (Is. 59:2, NIV).

A lost world will never understand this but we who have been saved by the Lord are privileged to know this holy and awful truth: sin has consequences.

The big question that jars my mind is not why Haiti had a killer earthquake, but why we don’t.,  Between the years 1973 and 2005 45 million babies were put to death,  by abortion in the U.S.A.,  We don’t have statistics about the past four years, but it is bad.

Listen to the “Creation Psalm” as some like to say: Ps. 139:13-18, NIV

“you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.”

Ignorant of or hardened against the truth that all life comes from God, the slayers of little unborn babies, pull them,,  with their mothers’ permission, from the womb into this world where they never live to grow up, but are dead and discarded like road kill.,  And now the conclusion.

Conclusion

Lesson Five: The Privilege of Surrendering Myself to God to help hurting People

I can’t go to Haiti to help.,  But there are three things I can do:,  I can give of whatever resources God has given me to those who are there.,  I can, in Christ’s name, help someone here who is hurting. And I can pray for and encourage the cause of righteousness in Haiti.,  The real tragedy of Haiti is if I merely do nothing.,  If I forget why God allowed this worst disaster perhaps ever to occur in the western hemisphere, I am part of the problem.,  May the Lord,  God help me never to forget!

Ladies and gentlemen.,  Don’t you think there is something we can all do to help?,  I pray so! — In Jesus’ Name,,  Amen.

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