I have been watching the uproar of the crazy respone of Pat Robertson to the Haiti disaster. I have been asked by several for my response for a pretty insensitive non-Christain like statement. I get a daily newsletter called God Issues from Dr. Jim Denison, President of The Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, Texas, and pastor of the Park Cities Baptist Church. And I think he wrote a great and Biblical Response…..So I am passing it on to you….
Is God punishing Haiti for worshipping the devil? Pat Robertson claims that Haiti made a pact with Satan for which the island’s 9.7 million inhabitants are now facing the wrath of God. Let’s examine Robertson’s statement in biblical perspective, investigate the historical background behind this alleged pact, and consider the intersection of natural disaster and divine love.
We begin with Robertson’s actual statement : “Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.’ True story. And so, the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’
“And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. Desperately poor. That island of Hispaniola is one island. It’s cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti; on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, et cetera. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I’m optimistic something good may come. But right now, we’re helping the suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable.”
I need to make four biblical responses.
First, God loves the suffering people of Haiti. He cares passionately for the poor and oppressed. His word tells us, “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done” (Proverbs 19:17). The Lord said of King Josiah, “He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” (Jeremiah 22:16).
The alleged 1791 Haitian pact with the devil would put our Father on the side of slavery and Satan on the side of those seeking freedom. The reverse is actually the case. Satan is a “murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44), a thief who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10) and seeks to make us “slaves to sin” (Romans 6:17). Satan enslaves—God liberates.
Second, the Haitians are suffering because we are fallen people living on a fallen planet. In the Garden of Eden, this tragedy would not have occurred. In God’s perfect plan there would have been no Hurricane Katrina, no tsunami in southeast Asia, no cancer or heart disease or earthquakes. But when we fell into sin, the entire planet was affected. As a result, “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22). The earthquake is not the Haitians’ fault. God cares for their pain as his own.
Third, God’s people must respond. We are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12), his hands and feet. He will help the suffering Haitians through us. Give to help the relief effort; go if you can; pray fervently. Don’t speculate on the causes of this crisis—respond personally and practically.
Last, I must state that Robertson’s statement is unbridled audacity. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, said that it is “absolute arrogance” to claim that we can interpret such events as divine judgment (http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/white-house-advisor-valerie-jarrett-speechless-pat-robertson/story?id=9555714). Franklin Graham said that Robertson “must have misspoken” and added, “God loves the people of Haiti.”
As we will see, Robertson should have checked his sources before making his allegation. Scripture calls us to “test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). And he should speak only the truth, in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Christians should pray now for the Haitians, asking God to redeem this horrific tragedy for his glory and their good. A suffering world will believe that God is love (1 John 4:8) when they see his love demonstrated in ours. As my friend Ken Medema says in one of his songs, “Don’t tell me I have a friend in Jesus without showing me first I’ve got a friend in you.”