Haiti and Sin, Me and Sin

A provocative title that’s not what you think.  But I hooked you in huh?

I heard a sermon, just after the Haiti earthquake, about Haitians’ reaction to disaster (not uncommon to them) which — according to the priest I heard — is typically something like this: “Yes, this is an awful situation, but bad things happen in a fallen world and God’s comfort is present.”

I’m not going to say that that’s a helpful pat answer, a common response to horror and death and poverty, earthquakes, mudslides, corruption.  Haitians are a beautiful people who have endured much.  And of course there are plenty of them wondering “What did we do to deserve all this?”  I’m not a fan of easy spiritual answers, of platitudes, so I won’t spout ’em.

YET I do believe there’s something in the priest’s suggestion that an attitude of surprise when bad things happen is not inherent in the Haitian reaction from what I know.

And it is an attitude that is endemic to America.  We are accustomed to relatively smooth transactions, to functioning public services, to being agents over our own lives, to deciding what we want and when, to paying whatever it takes to solve our problems (some of us, anyway).  We are shocked, outraged, incredulous when difficult things happen, when the world we expect isn’t the world that is.  And then we blame God.  We say, “How can this happen?”  We wonder “What sort of a God would allow this?”  It’s just part of our entitled societal ethic.

And I realized that the same thing occurs in my life, on a personal level, when I feel shock about sin.  Mine or others’.  As if it were a bizarre anomaly.

I loved the June 24 entry in Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest.”  Here it is:

This is your hour, and the power of darkness.” Luke 22:53

It is not being reconciled to the fact of sin that produces all the disasters in life. You may talk about the nobility of human nature, but there is something in human nature which will laugh in the face of every ideal you have. If you refuse to agree with the fact that there is vice and self-seeking, something downright spiteful and wrong in human beings, instead of reconciling yourself to it, when it strikes your life, you will compromise with it and say it is of no use to battle against it. Have you made allowance for this hour and the power of darkness, or do you take a recognition of yourself that misses out sin? In your bodily relationships and friendships do you reconcile yourself to the fact of sin? If not, you will be caught round the next corner and you will compromise with it. If you reconcile yourself to the fact of sin, you will realize the danger at once – Yes, I see what that would mean. The recognition of sin does not destroy the basis of friendship; it establishes a mutual regard for the fact that the basis of life is tragic. Always beware of an estimate of life which does not recognize the fact that there is sin.

Jesus Christ never trusted human nature, yet He was never cynical, never suspicious, because He trusted absolutely in what He could do for human nature. The pure man or woman, not the innocent, is the safeguarded man or woman. You are never safe with an innocent man or woman. Men and women have no business to be innocent; God demands that they be pure and virtuous. Innocence is the characteristic of a child; it is a blameworthy thing for a man or woman not to be reconciled to the fact of sin.

When we know the world as Scripture describes it, glorious but fallen, we can know our need for a savior and his particular comforts too.  When we insist all is well, or that the hard things that happen are bizarre freak occurrences that we didn’t expect (because nothing bad should happen in our world), we are constantly knocked off course and mad at the very One we need.

Ah Haiti, you’ve learned lessons the hard way.


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