January 29, 2010
Is There Hope or Justice for Haiti?
Rich Stearns, president and CEO of World Vision, US, recently returned from a trip to Haiti and provided this eyewitness account and spiritual reflection to Christianity Today.
Last week, I stood in the streets of Port au Prince Haiti weeping at the scope and scale of human suffering. Tens of thousands died—men, women, children, mothers, fathers, pastors, priests—no one was exempt.
Hundreds of thousands wandered stunned, hungry and homeless in the streets. While they survived the quake, the many aftershocks, and the lack of medical care, food, water and housing, still they had so much of their lives stripped away from them due to the destruction.
Who of us in these past days has not asked the question, “Where was God?” or “Why God?”
The sudden deaths of so many innocent people and the staggering human suffering that persists seem to mock the very notion of a loving God. There was another time that God was mocked in the face of suffering and evil. It happened on Calvary as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, God’s own son, was spat upon, beaten, and hanged on a cross. And people asked: Where was God?
If he was God, why didn’t he save himself—why not prevent this suffering from happening—why not save the Jewish people from their bondage to Rome—why not face this evil and turn it back?
But God had another way. On that cross we are told that Jesus faced all the evil that ever was or ever would be. He took upon himself the sins of mankind, the evils of injustice, the pain of suffering and loss, the brokenness of the world. He felt every pain and took every punishment for every person who would ever live.
Christ is not distant from us in our times of suffering. He is not indifferent or detached. He does not look upon us from far away. He lies crushed under the weight of concrete walls. He lies wounded in the street with his legs broken. He walks homeless through the camps hungry. He weeps uncontrollably over the child who he has lost.
But where is hope? Where is justice for the dead, broken, and grieving of Haiti?
We need to see something not easily seen from human perspective. We, not God, are trapped in time. We, not God, see only in part and cannot yet see the whole. We, not God, must wait for that day when he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
We live in the “not yet.” But God sees the “already.”
How then should we think?
We see today and yesterday, not tomorrow. God sees all three at once. In him, those crushed in Haiti are alive already. In him, those orphaned in Haiti are reunited with family already. In him, those broken in Haiti are healed already. In him, those grieving in Haiti rejoice already. He is no distant God who turns his back on us. He is no callous God who sheds no tears. He is God, who shed his own blood for us.
Until that moment when the “not yet” and the “already” are brought together in God’s time, we are commanded to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” Until then, we are to shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, and grieve with the grieving.
We are to let our light so shine before others, that they might see our good deeds and give glory to our Father in heaven. As the apostle Paul wrote, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors …as though God were making His appeal through us.”
Until then, we must show forth God’s deep love for Haiti.