The people of Haiti are suffering exceedingly after a devastating earthquake that literally destroyed their national capital and surrounding areas. Ten thousands of people died, and thousands mores are dying and suffering from hunger, dehydration, infection, lack of safety, and desperation. It is truly a living hell in that country at this moment. After shocks continue to torture the Haitian population. What is the rest of the world doing? Thankfully, millions and millions of dollars have been given to the relief of this ordeal from all over the world. What about from a spiritual perspective?
Are we to blame God for this occurrence? Are we to perceive this as an act of God, a punishment for the people of Haiti? If we do, then what follows is usually anger towards God. Is it proper to be angry at God? According to the Bible, the prophet Job was angry at God when his life became “Haiti”. King David also wrote in one of his Psalms “God, why have you abandoned me?”. Jonah refused to obey God because he thought God was unfair. Jesus himself expressed quoting King David when he was nailed on the cross, hours after he tried to negotiate with God if he would give some relief to his torment. What are we to do?
My thought is that if we allow our selfish nature to automatically turn against God, then we have fallen into the temptation of “blaming” others for the unfavorable circumstances. We tend to do this because doing the opposite, in other words, taking some responsibility , is too difficult and painful. It forces us to look at our true selves. It makes us move away from the superficial, childish, and popular tendencies to live a hypocritical life of pretending that we are “all right” with our selfish lifestyles. But wait, if we don’t blame God, does that mean that we then must take responsibility for the natural disaster in Haiti? Hardly. Because no one in their right mind would want thousands of people to die instantly, especially in the poorest nation of the western hemisphere. Should our thinking be this dichotomous, having to choose between one extreme or the other? By dichotomous, I mean “black and white” thinking, which is easier and irresponsible. For example, Let us blame God for this disaster, since it is natural but devastating. Or, let us blame ourselves, because we sin so much, disregard nature, ignore the poor, and so forth. The former is irresponsible and childish (“He made me do it!”) . The latter has some truth in it, but does not necessarily cause the disaster. Plus we can blame ourselves or other humans, feel guilt and shame, and still make no difference. Haiti continues to suffer. Who should we blame then? What about NOBODY? Let me rephrase that, we SHOULD blame ourselves if we sit back, feel pity, and do NOTHING. Yes this would be our fault. But we have a choice. We have an opportunity to act upon this disaster. We can stop blaming and start acting. Instead of thinking “black or white” we should take a more mature, responsible approach.
I have chosen to perceive this circumstance as an opportunity to grow even more. By saying “grow” I mean improving socially, mentally, and spiritually. Let us grow socially by uniting with the rest of the world, and help Haiti recover. Let us all become “Haitians”, by putting our patriotic and self-centered views of the world aside and become one with Haiti. Let us also grow mentally by refraining from thinking in a dichotomous way and start thinking in a more balanced fashion. We can do this by choosing to perceive this disaster as a way to be aware of the need in this world, and choosing to act upon it. This way of thinking will avoid extreme anger, depression , and desperation. When we recognize that there are still things we can do to help, our mental health improves. And let us grow spiritually, so that we can get closer to God by helping the rest of humanity. I am a Christian and I will speak from a Christian point of view. Jesus taught us to serve others because when we do this, it is as if we are doing it to Him”. (Mathew 25:45) James also said “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:25-26). By this, James taught us that, if we pray for Haiti, but do nothing, what good is it to pray? If you are not committed TO DO something, either give money, food, volunteer, etc. you might as well not pray. Take responsibility and do something, because Jesus said HImself “”Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Mathew 7:21). Let us get closer to God by doing his will, which is to serve others.
This is my invitation to all of us. Give to Haiti and the rest of the poor nations. Don’t despair and blame others, because nothing will ever change. Yes, let us acknowledge the pain and the suffering, because it is healthy and natural to do so. But in addition to our feelings, let us act upon our feelings and make a difference. Haiti is our teaching moment, let us learn from it.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mathews 25:34-40)