Thursday

Why do people suffer?

The recent remarks made by Pat Robertson of the 700 Club about the Haitian earthquake that has taken over 100,000 lives so far, caused me to consider once again why people suffer.

Robertson said on his famous television show, that the country of Haiti was once under the "heel of the French" and made a pact with the devil to get out from under French rule. Since that time, Robertson said, the country has been "cursed by one thing after another." They live in poverty, while people in the Dominican Republic, a nearby island, live in comfort because of their wealth.

People in Haiti "need a great turning to God," Robertson said, apparently oblivious to the fact that 80% of Haitians are Catholic and 16% Protestant. He then tagged on that he was hoping that something good would come out of this tragedy.

As a journalist and a lover of history, I would like to know where Robertson got his information. He quoted no sources for this "fact" he presented, he just said it on a show broadcast internationally. Way to go, Robertson. Kick the Haitians while they're down. Whether the "story" is true or not, now is not the time to say things like this, especially on television or in print.

Can you tell that I'm a little miffed over the whole thing? When I saw one of the comments on YouTube that said, "See how they are?" "They," meaning Christians. I just hurt all over.

So why do people suffer? I've thought a lot about this, especially since my first husband, a God-fearing and compassionate pastor, died of cancer. If anyone did not deserve to suffer it was him, but he did, terribly. Why didn't God spare him? Why didn't God spare Haiti, a country that hadn't had an earthquake in 200 years?

The truth is, I don't know. What I do know is that God is not the one who causes suffering. Because of sin, which was initiated by our human ancestors in the garden, our human existence and the very earth itself suffers because we are under a curse. We don't have to make a pact with the devil; bad stuff is going to happen. Besides, in any depiction of making deals with the devil, the contractee always enjoys great material wealth and secular power and influence ... until the time comes to pay up with the soul in the hereafter. So Robertson makes no sense at all. In Ecclesiastes it says that the "rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous." Proverbs says that "a righteous man falls seven times and seven times he gets back up." In these two sentences, scripture assumes that bad things will happen.

I cannot believe that a good God would cause such devastation. What I do believe, however, is that God is there to help people through this awful time. By studying Genesis, we find that God did not intend the world to be this way.

Anyway, there are 115,000 Nazarenes down in Haiti who are in my prayers. All of the people are in my prayers. May God's help, deliverance and blessing be upon the Haitian people and everyone else who is suffering from that quake.

For another perspective on this, please see:

Pat Robertson blames Haiti quake on 'pact with the devil'