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Haiti’s Catastrophic Earthquake: “Where’s God?”

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In the wake of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti on Tuesday, January 12 and crushed most buildings in Port-au-Prince, including churches, hospitals, and schools, and severely damaged the presidential palace, it's like time stood still and words cannot express what was about to come next.

Within 24 hours of this massive earthquake, I watched the human drama unfold. Knowing that immediately after this catastrophe struck thousands lie dead under the rubble, what is still most chilling is that there continue to be reports of people trapped beneath the collapsed structures crying for help. Where is the search and rescue, I keep asking?

Observing some of the live coverage by CNN's Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and other newscasters who arrived in Haiti yesterday, their stories are chilling and the looks on their faces haunting.

What about the children and helpless, the wounded and weary, the thirsty and hungry? Where are the medicine, doctors, water, and food? I realize that there are tons of logistical problems in getting the Haitians the aid they desperately need, but where is it? The Red Cross, Salvation Army, and other charitable organizations have been part of the early responders and from what I know so far, rescuers from around the world poured into Haiti today. Many nations, including ours, are sending more resources to help the Haitian people and donations are pouring in. Help is on its way, but will it be soon enough?

Early reports have estimated more than 100,000 have perished in this devastation –– a number that could increase substantially –– and dead bodies lie in the streets. Observing the death, suffering, trauma, anguish, and chaos, I have rarely been able to contain my emotions and have wept bitterly. I struggle from within and keep asking why? Why does this happen?

From my own personal faith, I have learned that trials and tribulations are used to build Christlike character and over the years, have had my share of character building. Yet I've never understood the reasons behind calamities such as this one –– it just doesn’t make sense and it shakes the foundation of my faith.

Every time a natural disaster hits that causes so much death, destruction, and devastation, I stand dumbfounded and I always have that daunting question in my heart — why, God? Now I ask, "Where’s God in the midst of Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake and its aftermath?" And my answer is: "I don’t know." But I can only hope and pray that He arrives soon.

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About Christine Lakatos

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Nice article Christine. I like this because it shows that in the wake of such tragedy, it is not only normal, but healthy for Christians to question their faith. I definitely prefer your approach to that of people like Pat Robertson — who give well-meaning people of faith a bad name when they make the sort of irresponsible statements he recently made.

    What you wrote shows that Christians are human too. I liked that a lot about this article.

    One thing people can do to make a difference is go to Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haitian Earthquake Fund. It tells you how to make a $5. donation with your cellphone.

    Nice work though.

    -Glen

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Are you sure you are making difference to something other than Wyclef’s wallet?

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    I hadn’t seen this article, and it certainly raises flags. But Wyclef’s thing has been covered by people like CNN (Anderson Cooper), and in Haiti they think of the guy the same way Jamaicans revere Bob Marley. I’m going with the assumption that its legit, but if it isn’t, then shame on him…

    -Glen

  • myrnaluvs

    My heart also goes to Haiti and the many other countries that had been hit by catastrophic events. I have never understood why things happen, but it makes me realize all the more the importance of sharing the gift of salvation. None of us are promised tomorrow, and God never said there wouldn’t be pain and suffering, and things that leave us shaken to the core. He did say that it rains on the just and on the unjust. I believe our job as christians is to have the compassion that we are all feeling right now and reach out and do something to show the love of Christ. As for Pat Robertson well, there is a time and a place for sensitivity and that time is now. All of us have been affected by this event on some level and now is the time for compassion, not judgement.

    Myrna

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Here are some ways that we can all help the people of Haiti.

    No matter what our religious beliefs are.

    Their time is running out

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Good morning all, wasn’t feeling well so went to bed early. Appreciate the kind words and like Jeannie said, not matter our religious beliefs or lack of, WE can all do something.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Christine,

    This is so heart wrenching… I don’t know how anyone could not help.

    STM suggested giving blood..good idea. They could use it.:(

  • http://mizbviewsfromthetower.blogspot.com Jeanne Browne

    As an Interfaith minister and a religious skeptic (I won’t waste time here explaining how/why I juggle these seeming opposites), I have long asked myself how one can believe in a loving God who intercedes in human affairs could allow such catastrophes, as well as the day-to-day horrors endured by billions around the globe caused by war, poverty, slavery, repression, etc. Where was God during the WWII Holocaust?; that’s a question that has made many Jews question the truth and purpose of their faith. Needless to say, there is no actual answer to this huge religious/philosophical question, just as there is no proof that a loving God exists (or still exists). The answer I live with is that the love and goodness we ascribe to a higher being is meant to be expressed by us, through us. As I write this, it is Friday morning EST, and massive aid has arrived and more is en route to Haiti. God is in Haiti in the strength of that impoverished nation’s strong, resilient people. God is in Haiti in the presence and efforts of every soldier, aid worker and other participant working to cope with the initial stages of recovery in this disaster. God is in Haiti in the funds donated to aid organizations by individuals around the world. God is in Haiti in the prayers and concerns of those individuals and others. I don’t believe in the wrath of a God or the power of a God to prevent natural and manmade disasters. I don’t believe in salvation from God. If there is an all-powerful God who is aware of our dire troubles, He, She or It may be indifferent, or simply not as all-powerful as we would wish — which makes sense, really. How many people raise their children to be good people, only to watch them grow up and do terrible things, or, suffer terribly for no good reason. Yet the parents are helpless to change or heal these situations? Our best hope as the human race is to care for each other as best we can. Those who Believe can draw strength from their own faith; those who don’t can draw strength from their own humanity. What practical, tangible alternatives are there?

  • http://mizbviewsfromthetower.blogspot.com Jeanne Browne

    By the way, as best as I can determine, aid to Haiti is coming from the US, Israel, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, China, and countries throughout Europe, South America and the Caribbean. Except for Morocco, I’ve heard of nothing coming from Muslim nations around the world, especially the very wealthy ones in the Mid-East. Now why do you suppose that is?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Jeanne: thanks for your insight into faith. It is so complex. Humanitarian’s come in all faiths, colors, sizes, shapes, etc. Let’s hope and pray the help keeps coming in for the Haitian people. And good to know which countries are helping out with this disaster.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Where was God during the WWII Holocaust?; that’s a question that has made many Jews question the truth and purpose of their faith. Needless to say, there is no actual answer to this huge religious/philosophical question, just as there is no proof that a loving God exists (or still exists).

    Jeanne,

    This is rough reading – and you won’t like it one bit. But Jews need to confront the holocaust Jewishly and stop bullshitting about G-d and sin and punishment.

    G-d may or may have not acted to show His Wrath in Haiti. This is something we all need to ponder, but especially Haitians. They need to look at themselves – and look hard – just as we Jews need to look hard at ourselves in the light of the murder of one third of our people 70 years ago. Are we behaving so evilly towards each other today that we will bring upon ourselves another holocaust?

    G-d is not a beaming Santa Claus who just hands out gifts. He has Standards; He has Expectations. And when we consistently refuse to attempt to meet those Standards and Expectations, sooner or later G-d lets us know. And it usually isn’t fun.

    That does not mean that any of us should stint in helping Haitians in this, their hour of need. Further, it does not allow us to point fingers at Haitians before we very carefully examine the soul in the mirror and point the bony finger, saying, “forgive me G-d for the sin I sinned by…..”

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    Ruvy, my friend, I’m going to do something very silly. In Avatar there’s a line which really struck a chord with me. I’m paraphrasing here but one of the characters responds to a question about why their “God” would allow such destruction. She replies that their “God” does not take sides – she maintains nature’s balance. The rest is on us individually. Maybe that’s what it all amounts to. I believe God gave us free will and in having such a gift, God no longer takes sides but maintains the balance. What say you?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Just like pestilence, plague, and all sundry?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I believe God gave us free will and in having such a gift, God no longer takes sides but maintains the balance. What say you?

    Silas,

    Go re-read my comment again. Also go read my comments at Realist’s fine article The Gathering Storm. That should give you all the answer you need.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Christine,

    I believe it is appropriate to post this message in your thread.

    Please text Haiti to 90999 for immediate International Red cross relief OR Text SAVE to 20222 for Save The Children.

    Ten dollars can buy allot of Plumpy Nut for little babies and children!

    As we sit at our computers tonight there are so many innocent people suffering in Haiti!

    This is by far the largest human tragedy in years; the estimation now is One Hundred and fifty to Two Hundred Thousand people lost in the end…

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Christine, Are you sitting down?

    My husband and I were very impressed with how former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton who are working together to help rescue and rebuild Haiti; they have a chance to become a solid, productive country someday with a strong infra-structure and a good future..now I have a deep admiration for both Former Presidents! :)

    That is how our politicians should act together!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Good show, Jeannie. Unfortunately, they no longer hold office.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Yes Roger,

    They still have the power..even if they don’t have the titles!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Hey all, thanks for coming by again. Been busy writing my exercise book proposal; almost done so I can do some more damage on BlogCritics.

    Ruvy, Ruvy: we need to talk, because even though I question God when travesties happen, including the Holocaust, I still believe God exists and He is GOOD. You are good too. xo

    Jeannie, yes, sitting down…lol I caught the Bush/Clinton thing and I agree! Let’s hope and pray for that they do help the Haitian people now and as they rebuild.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Christine,

    I am happy to hear that you are writing another excersise book!

    Do you have a good abdominal workout for an old hippy sitting at her computer all winter?

    Or, do I have to buy the book? Ha Ha

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    LOL, too funny. Were you raised during the 60’s? I was born in the 60’s so I was raised during the “bell bottom” era, the 70’s. LOL again.

    Once I get my book proposal done and regroup, I will write a blog about “abs training.”

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Yes! In fact I used to live in California. Laguna beach in 1976, the bicentennial year!

    I loved the sunsets at Laguna! We used to eat at Victor Hugos and I think it’s still open. But that is another article I haven’t written yet.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Great, I need ab training!

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Christine, I have been absolutely beside myself since the Earthquake! People say the media is showing too much, but my God, how can we not see their need and horror. This is what all our new technology brings to us…tears and anguish.

    i want to apologise for being so snarky towards you when you wrote about Gov. Schwarzenegger.:(

    I am so bitchy, sometimes. No hard feelings OK?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Well, I’ll let you get back to your book. Bye :)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Jeannie: this Haiti catastrophe has, like I stated in the article when it first happened, really taken me back. As I continue to watch each day, I have the same reaction, felling bad and weeping. I can only imagine if that was one of my children buried in that rubble crying for help, or already dead. Or one of the thousands sick and without medicine, no water, food, blankets or a home. Words cannot express this appropriately!

    And quite honestly I don’t remember the “Govenator” comment. We all get our “panties in a bunch” here on BC, especially when it comes to religion and politics, and I am no different.

    For some reason, despite our differences here on BC, we all seem to have respect for one another. A very good thing and I like all the BC people, and enjoy my time even when I get “smashed.”

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    we need to talk, because even though I question God when travesties happen, including the Holocaust, I still believe God exists and He is GOOD.

    Christine,

    Did you try to read the essay I linked to? Before you tell me how we have to talk about G-d being GOOD, read that essay. It is not pleasant reading. Writing exercise books is positive fun in comparison. But nowhere in that essay will you find an author who says that G-d isn’t GOOD. What you will find is an author who insists that when man is evil he brings upon himself the Wrath of G-d.

  • Irene Wagner

    Why isn’t that good, Ruvy?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Ruvy, I’m sorry did not read the essay, but I will and get back at you. I just noticed the God thing first. Sorry!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Ruvy: By the way my boyfriend is Jewish, so the Jewish people have a special place in my heart. LOL Also, I have studied the bible including the “Covenant that God made with Abraham,” the book of Judges when the jewish people “forsook the Lord and did what was right in their own sight,” my favorite are the prophets like Jeremiah, who warned of “judgement,” and much more.

    That said: even if you believe the bible (old and new Testaments), cruelty and suffering either by a natural disaster or man-caused, still confuses me, yet I don’t blame God, just wonder why and where He is in the midst of such tragedies. But again, like the author of that article stated; God is love, good and just!

    But do not blame God. He remains the One whose duty compels us “to declare that the Lord is just, He is my rock and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” [Tehillim/Psalms 92:15]

  • Irene Wagner

    I misread something in 27, Ruvy, sorry.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Irene, I thinks I misread Ruvy too. Not sure if he will come back. Maybe he’s sleeping. Sorry Ruvy, if come back!

  • Irene Wagner

    Christine, there were different ways people answered your question: Where is God? Here’s one more… Jesus described a conversation that takes place during the Judgment: “Lord, When saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?… And the King shall answer and say unto them, verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

    The prophets you named in your conversation with Ruvy describe a mighty and wrathful God, but also One who is vulnerable and broken-hearted over Israel’s rejection of Him. God has experienced and understands pain. He is in the hands of those bringing aid, but He’s also in the faces of those who suffer.

  • Irene Wagner

    Its so easy to misinterpret words/emotions/intentions on the net Christine–it can drive a person crazy :() I think I’ve had enough for now!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Irene,I agree, and hope Ruvy is still my friend. Yes, the new testament is the God of love, mercy and compassion..I think the verse you used is from Matthew. It is those that feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, give comfort to the sick, visit the prisoners…

    According to James, “Faith without Works is dead.” Our words and deeds demonstrate our true faith.

    God has arrived in Haiti; and it is reflective in all those helping! Wow what a sight.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Christine,

    We had massive electricity blackouts last night, and every time I tried to turn on the computer after one, another one hit. So, I forgot all about it and went to sleep. I was tired after a long day in J-lem trying to manage events for one of my sons, and at the Israeli Knesset honoring Raoul Wallenberg, a true hero to be emulated – especially by those who would give help in Haiti. Go see my article on the Haiti disaster to see my comment on it.

    Now, it’s Tuesday morning here, and maybe a titch less windy and rainy….

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    Great comment on Raoul Wallenberg, Ruvy. 1% of Americans should be as participatory as you. It drives me nuts as to just how disengaged we are in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

    May this Tuesday find you healthy and peaceful. I am off to slumber — in 7 hours the polls open in Massachusetts and this is one voter who will not only be voting but working outside the polls. There’s too much at stake.

  • Rebecca

    I am an agnostic. It is not that I don’t believe in God, it is a lack of trust. When I was younger I drank and did many bad things. I would like to be forgiven; however, religion scares me. I witnessed my dad turn from a kind and tolerant person to this judgmental uncaring person when he became a born again. It seems I don’t know where to go to become a tolerant Christian. Back to the topic. Are these natural disasters really punishment or have we somehow inadvertantly created them ourselves. There are theories out there that the heating up of the earth’s atmosphere can cause a chain reaction of natural disasters, including, of course, strange whether phenomena, but also suprisingly– earthquakes. Scientist claim to have proof of this from fossil records. Further, they claim that in the earth’s past, when there was a reversal of the earth’s magnetic poles, a chain of natural disasters occurred that caused our last ice age. (the magnetic poles are in the process of switching right now) Perhaps this isn’t God’s punishment. Maybe it is a cycle the earth naturally goes through that we will have to endure. Maybe our punishment is the natural consequences of our own behavior.