If you’re a reader of the German writer Goethe,
an opera buff,
a watcher of the old Twilight Zone series,
or even a Charlie Daniels Band fan you’ve heard the story before.
A poor, unfortunate soul makes a deal with the Devil, and , well, there ends up being Hell to pay.
Most of us are aware of the devastating 7.0 earthquake that has laid waste a good portion of the already poverty-stricken nation of Haiti.
But what you may not be aware of is that at least one national commentator is claiming that the destruction of Port-au-Prince is a case of the Devil collecting his due.
In keeping with his natural gift for stirring up controversy, Pat Robertson of the 700 Club made the following remarks this morning.
“Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it,” he said. “They were under the heel of the French … and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French.’
“True story. And the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal,'” Robertson said. “Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another.”
Robertson’s remarks have stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy, so much so that a spokesman for the 700 Club issued this clarification to blogger Ben Smith of Politico.com.
On today’s The 700 Club, during a segment about the devastation, suffering and humanitarian effort that is needed in Haiti, Dr. Robertson also spoke about Haiti’s history. His comments were based on the widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion led by Boukman Dutty at Bois Caiman, where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French. This history, combined with the horrible state of the country, has led countless scholars and religious figures over the centuries to believe the country is cursed.
Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath.
If you watch the entire video segment, Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them. His humanitarian arm has been working to help thousands of people in Haiti over the last year, and they are currently launching a major relief and recovery effort to help the victims of this disaster. They have sent a shipment of millions of dollars worth of medications that is now in Haiti, and their disaster team leaders are expected to arrive tomorrow and begin operations to ease the suffering.
I think it is fair to say that however one might view Robertson’s remarks, there is no doubt he has put his ministry’s money where his mouth is concerning constructive acts of compassion for those suffering in Haiti.
In fact, I find it ironic that so many of Robertson’s detractors rail against his intolerance and then in the same breath heap curses upon him that would curl your hair.
But enough of the “We will not tolerate intolerance!” tail-chasing.
But when an event like the Haitian earthquake takes place, a disaster that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called one of “Biblical proportions”, the inevitable question gets asked –
Why did God allow this to happen?
And there is a Biblical answer.
When God finished creating the heavens and the earth he looked upon all that He had made and pronounced it “very good” (Genesis 1:31)
There was no suffering, no death, no disease – no devastating earthquakes.
And God created man with a unique nature and a unique responsibility.
Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17)
Our first ancestors were given the choice of saying yes or no to a love relationship with our Creator.
They were also told what the clear consequences of their decisions would be.
The phrase “you shall surely die” is emphatic in the Hebrew. It can be literally rendered “dying you shall die.”
There would be both physical and spiritual consequences for turning away from the Author of Life.
And the rest is, as they say, history.
When we separated ourselves from God, spiritual and physical death filled the void.
And we all experience the effects of this fall every day.
The apostle Paul put it this way:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:18-21)
So when we are hurting or find ourselves hurting others, it goes back to the fall.
When we find ourselves struggling with a sense of emptiness and frustration in the deepest part of our souls, it goes back to the fall.
When we at once see the remaining traces of the beauty of creation, and the mind-blowing destruction that same creation can deliver, it goes back to the fall.
And so, in a sense, Pat Robertson was right.
When Adam and Eve listened to the voice of the serpent, the result was a cursed creation.
But that curse isn’t restricted to Haiti, or the coasts of Indonesia and India when the tsunami disaster hit.
It effects all of us.
And every time we sin, we ratify that same decision that rendered the once “very good” creation into what we live in today.
But the good news is, in spite of what we have done, God continues to love us.
In fact He loves us so much, He became a man and lived in this same fallen world we live in today.
In Jesus He lived a life we could never live – without sin –
and laid down that life on a cruel Roman cross so that we could be forgiven and reconciled to God.
And so, when we see tragedies like the Haitian earthquake take place, we mourn together for those caught in harms way.
And following in our Father’s footsteps, we reach out to do what we can to alleviate the effects of the fall.
In this light, the best question we can ask in the aftermath of almost unimaginable disaster isn’t so much “why?”, as much as it is “what?”
What can we do to make a practical difference in the lives of those who suffer?
What can we do to share the message of God’s love and His desire to forgive and reconcile us to Himself with the hurting?
If you want to get involved with both, follow the link to a wonderful Christian relief organization, Compassion International.
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