Whenever a cataclysmic disaster occurs somewhere in the world, there is often speculation concerning whether or not there is an underlying meaning behind it. Are the forces of nature alone at work, or is God’s hand moving in judgment? The tragic earthquake that struck Haiti earlier this week is no exception, as some have apparently already made public statements regarding their belief that God has allowed this earthquake as a special judgment for the sins of the Haitian people.
First of all, let me say that my prayers are with the people of Haiti and all of their loved ones around the world. My heart goes out to them during this time of immense tragedy. Second, let me say that it is not my intention to “use” the untimely deaths of those who perished from this massive earthquake as a cold object lesson or platform from which to preach. But in light of the controversial comments that have been made (which have in fact resulted in Internet Search Engine queries that have landed visitors on this website — which is my sole motivation for addressing this subject at all), I feel that maybe we should consider what the Bible tells us concerning dark times such as these:
“There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)
Some people approached Jesus and told Him about certain individuals who were recently executed by Pontius Pilate. Additionally, a “tower” (possibly one of the supporting columns around the pool) at Siloam had recently fallen, killing eighteen people beneath it. As some are inclined to do now, many speculated that these tragedies were indications of God’s special wrath on the victims. The more grievous the sin, the harsher and swifter the judgment was the idea. They believed that those who lost their lives in such ways must be guilty of unusually severe sin. But Jesus tells them that this is not the case. Swift and unexpected tragedy is not to be interpreted as a special act of God’s judgment; we are not to speculate that God is singling people out because their sin is worse than our own.
The response of the Lord Jesus Christ is that the only real conclusion we are able to draw from such events is that death comes to us all, and often it comes when we least expect it. Regardless of the severity or type of sin we are each guilty of, the fact of the matter is that we are all guilty of sin. We do not know how much time we have remaining to repent and turn to God for forgiveness, therefore now is the time in which to do so.
May God bring the comfort of His presence near to those who have suffered such great loss from this tragedy in Haiti, and in so doing may they turn fully to Him.