Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Kris' question

This blog is in response to a comment received on my Haiti trip blog. Here's the basic question:
Concerning the earthquake in Haiti how can God be both all powerful and just? If he's all-powerful why didn't He stop this unjust thing from happening and if he's just but couldn't stop this thing from happening; then he must not be all-powerful. Good question and I won't pretend that I can fully explain how God operates here (he's God and none of us knows his perspective, purpose, or greatness - it's like a gold fish trying to explain college level calculus). Anyway, here are some thoughts that may give a start to what might be happening with the Haiti earthquake.
1. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus, it is by faith that you trust God to be both just and all-powerful. You may never be able to explain it...but you believe it because you believe God (see Hebrews 11:1). Mostly non-believers have this question because they don't want to believe in God (usually some bad church experience or they want to live a life free of God's demands so it's just easier to write him off).
2. We're assuming that the Haiti earthquake is unjust because we view it from a worldly perspective. The worse thing from this perspective is death and next to that is suffering of innocents (children) - but that's not God's perspective. Let me be clear here - I'm deeply saddened by what I've seen and experienced (closer than I wanted to)! But consider these eternal perspectives: a. Out of the 200,000 (living in extreme poverty, homeless and eating mud pies to stave off their hunger) who died in the quake , let's say that 100,000 were Christ followers or children before the age of reasoning. According to the Word, one minute they were in the worst of conditions and the next they were in the presence of God in heaven. Is that not just? Is that why an all-powerful God didn't jump in and stop things miraculously because he couldn't stand to see them suffer any more and wanted to bring them into eternal peace? Something to consider. b. What about the hundreds of thousands who were injured, displaced, etc... Consider this, before the earthquake these people were literally starving to death and lived in complete squalor. Consider that right now there is ten times as much food in Haiti as before the quake. God has resourced all the world's riches (mainly through his body the church) to send immediate aid to Haiti. In other words, maybe he didn't intervene miraculously because he wanted the world to finally pay attention to Haiti and come to it's aid. You'll have to admit aside from many church organizations - no body cared about haiti until the quake! c. What about the hundreds of thousands who will now come to faith in Christ because of this tragedy? There are already stories of Haitians who have given their lives to Christ because of what they've been through. Maybe the all-powerful God didn't hold back the devastation of the earthquake because he wanted eternal justice (salvation for as many as possible) for those he knew would turn to him in crisis.

I could go on...those are just a few thoughts on how God might have viewed it - taking nothing from his all-powerful nature and his just nature.

One other thought. God created the world in perfect order (Genesis 1&2) and allowed man to have free choice. Man sinned (Genesis 3) and completely altered God's creation. It's flawed now because of sin...reaching even so far as natural disasaters. With man's choice to sin - Satan was given place here in the world as a tempter for a time. A day of final justice is coming when Jesus will return and Satan will go away forever and God will exert his power.

Until then, we view things as through a glass dimly and we don't understand it all...but there is one other "injustice" and "lack of power" that we bank our eternities on: Jesus died on a cross for our sins! Now that's not fair! And God forsook His power to stop men from killing His son. And yet somehow...that act...Jesus on a cross... showed God at his most fair and most powerful!


Shurtz-Hassebrock Family said...

We loved your explanation #2. Very well said. Makes much more sense to us now. Thank you.

Anonymous said...


OK was not anticipating seeing the response to my question on your actual blog. But I truly appreciate you responding and appreciate the biblical references.

Obviously this was not a discussion I was anticipating on having when I went up to visit. It is a horrible feeling to see the pain in the eyes of my brother/sister-in-law as we talked. I didn't feel like they were challenging my faith as I think they were hoping that in the discussion there would be some answer that could explain their personal tragedy so they could believe again.

That being said - I know that God is at work here.

Thank you again!

Anonymous said...

hey. thanks for your thoughts on this...i just have to argue one thing b/c i think something you stated could be misinterpreted....
you said that before the quake no body (except the church) cared about haiti. that is not exactly true. many government and humanitarian organizations have given aid to haiti over the years. unfortunately, no one can figure out why the aid/money has never made a dent in haiti's progress. but, i wanted to make it clear that although the church has had a great presence in haiti over the years, we should not leave out the government and humanitarian efforts that have taken place there as well.
always up for a loving debate :-)

Mike Baker said...

of course you're right about other organizations...one of my many weaknesses in writing is overstatement. What I should have said is that the bulk of efforts have been Christian driven (which I think is more accurate, although I don't have the stats). To your point about why it seems that there is no difference in a country that has received billions in aid...poor Haitian governmental oversight (but now I'm really out of my realm of knowledge). thanks for the comment Lynne...keep me in line (and in pants that fit:-)

Anonymous said...

You make some very good points...but can I take it a little deeper. If God is all powerful...why allow Satan in the garden and Eve to be tempted? Why even place a forbidden tree in the garden? If he is all powerful can't he make a way to be drawn closer to him than through pain/suffering?

Mike Baker said...

dear anonymous...you make a good point - why didn't an all-powerful God eliminate Satan from the Garden? He easily could have, but He wanted to share love and the only way for love to truly be love it has to be a choice. So he could have eliminated the choice between good and evil, but then we wouldn't be able to be in a loving relationship with God. If I were all-powerful I could have made my wife marry me, but we both know that wouldn't be love, so in my all powerfulness (we're still hypothetical here :-) I decided to let her choose - and that choice makes our relationship a truly mutual fellowship of love.

Anonymous said...

But,if you were an all powerful God (still hypothetical) why would you create a choice (if chosen) that would lead to death?......

Or is this where you would say his grace comes in. He gave us physical death but spared us eternal death.Because he so loved us, He sent His son (if we choose Him) to die for us, we no longer have eternal death. Unfortunately then, we will have to persevere through the pain and suffering of this world until he comes again?

Does that sound about right?

Mike Baker said...

anonymous - we're getting close...sounds about right.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your presentation of the bigger picture, one that none of us can fathom with the limited cognitive abilities that we have. One other consideration in terms of where is God when bad things like this happen, comes from a book I once read, entitled, "Good News About Injustice." I am sure we can all appreciate that many of these Haitians would not have died had their buildings, homes, etc. been adequately constructed. Their poverty is longstanding and has contributed to this being such a disaster. God could have done something many years ago that would have made a difference, but God works through us, His people. But, much of the concern we have today is a day late and a dollar short. Let's not make the same mistake and not care about the future of the people of Haiti.

Anonymous said...

Listened to your sermon regarding prayer and healing. Very good perspectives. Was curious how your sermon would have been different if Jesus had NOT been willing to heal the leper? My belief it is the other story that is harder to understand. My experience is that when I ask Jesus/God for something and he is willing, His love and plan makes sense. It is the other story, when we ask (even believing in His ability) and He is unwilling or not willing at that time, it is more difficult to make sense of His love and His purpose. How do you explain the "why" for Him not being willing (even when offered in trur belief)?

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous,

I had a similar thought wondering what the stories are like when Jesus isn't willing.... how did they turn out?

It didn't take me long to realize the most powerful story in the Bible (our salvation) is because Jesus was "not willing." Not willing to save himself on the cross(Luke 23:36-39)when he could have. And God "not willing" to save Jesus from the cross(Luke 22:42) when He could have. How would that story...our story turned out differently had Jesus and God been willing then?

I have experienced the side of prayers (from my perspective)when the Lord was "not willing" (at least in my way or my time). I don't pretend to know the why's or the purposes. The lesson that I take from the above passages in Luke is Jesus' obedience to God's will despite the "not willing" and God's love for us to allow His Son to be sacrificed. Admittedly, living that out during those times is much tougher.Maybe that's why God created Starbucks :-)