The question that went through my mind shortly after I heard the news is this: why did this happen? More specifically, how could God allow this kind of disaster to happen - haven't these people gone through enough? I imagine that people all over the world have been asking this same question.
A number of years ago, I asked this question in another circumstance, and an acquaintance of mine asked me, with a degree of incredulity, how I could ask such a question, given that I was a Christian. My answer, both then and now, is this: Why shouldn't I ask this question? Does it belittle my faith, belittle God, if I have questions? Can my faith not bear a few tough questions? If I'm not able to find an answer to all of my (gazillion) questions, does that mean that my faith can no longer be valid or real? My perspective is that the question how could God allow this kind of disaster to happen to these poor people? is a question best asked by someone who believes in him. I'll go even further: I think that just asking the question presupposes a belief in God - if one doesn't believe in God, or in a God, why bother asking the question at all - natural disasters are then happenstance, the product of chance or fate or whatever other name one might choose to label it by. Thus, I think it's someone who does believe in God who can and should ask this question. I know it's scary (for me, at least) to ask these tough kinds of questions, but let's go there anyway, and see where we end up. Let's ask some hard questions and stretch our faith, regardless of what that faith looks like, just a little, by daring to ask. It's ok if we don't have all of the answers - I know that I won't!
First, let me put a bit of myself on the line here, by saying the following about what I believe, as a person of faith; specifically, as a Christian:
- I believe, down in my guts somewhere, that God is both omnipotent and omniscient...all powerful and all knowing. If this is true, it means that God had control over whether or not that earthquake would happen in Haiti.
- I believe that God created and loves every single person on earth, whether or not those very same individuals choose to believe in or love him in return. This perspective, then, leads me to assume that he created and loves every last man, woman and child in Haiti (whether or not they believe in him) every bit as much as he created and loves me.
- Finally, I believe that God knows us and that he cares about us and our futures as individuals. Following my own belief, this would infer that he knows, and wants the best for, every man, woman and child in Haiti, every bit as much as he knows and wants the best for me.
Well, here's the first thing that comes to my mind, so it will be my starting point...
From a purely logical perspective, and even though I'm the one who just put the question out there, it seems to me that the question about why God would allow this to happen to Haiti is somewhat artificial - or at least not complete...not big enough. Because if the question is 'just' about an earthquake happening in Haiti, then my mind screams out other questions: well, if not in Haiti, should the earthquake have happened somewhere else in the world - somewhere else that would be somehow more deserving? And where would that place be: somewhere with terrorists? somewhere where the people are wealthy enough to be able to rebuild after catastrophe strikes? somewhere that hasn't had a natural disaster for a while, to sort of share disasters on a more equal basis? And who would decide which country would undergo the disaster?
You see where this kind of thinking can take you. So the question of why God allowed the earthquake to strike Haiti doesn't seem big enough. I'm thinking that my question about why God allowed this to happen in Haiti is really a subset of a bigger question that I know we all ask at times, regardless of faith orientation: (assuming that God exists) Why does God allow bad things to happen at all? Why does he allow suffering? It's a question that I've often heard asked by atheists, who are unable to provide proof that God doesn't exist and so rely on (great) philosophical questions such as this one. But really, don't we all wonder this once in a while? Isn't that really the question?
Right now, I'm thinking that this question needs a bit of thought and attention. This post has just become part one of a series of two or more posts. I'm not sure whether my follow-up post will appear tomorrow or in two days or in two weeks. But it's gonna come...not with definitive conclusions, but with my current thoughts on the matter, whatever they may be. In the meantime, what do you think the answer to the question is??
To be continued...