I am going to tell you how I feel about God.
If that's too deep, too personal, too intense, too serious -- I completely understand, and hopefully I'll see you back here tomorrow. But tonight, I have something I want to get off my chest.
A couple of days ago, a massive earthquake rocked the nation of Haiti. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 people, as I write, are thought dead. In anyone's estimation, this is a cataclysmic tragedy. And then yesterday it got just a little worse.
Pat Robertson opened his mouth.
Can anyone find another planet for Pat to live on, because he's worn out his welcome on this one?
The good Reverend declared that the Haitians themselves were to blame for this horrific disaster because, sometime in the murky past, Haitian slaves, seeking their freedom from the French, made a pact with the Devil, to help them win their independence.
Is there any tragedy that Pat Robertson can't make just a little worse?
Is this the God you worship? A god, who punishes the (supposed) sins of a people by destroying their descendants two centuries later? A petty and uncaring god, devoid of compassion, filled with jealousy and consumed with retribution? This is not the God I know.
Not that there is much more than legend to back up Mr. Robertson's claims, but for argument's sake, let's consider the situation of the people who were said to have made this pact with the devil -- they were slaves.
Slaves. Human beings held as property by other human beings. They had no rights. They had no say in their own lives. And to make it worse, they were told that it was God's will that they be enslaved. If your only connection to God was in knowing that He esteemed you no more than the beasts of the field, that he, if not approved, at least condoned the lash of the whip upon your back, would you worship Him? Or would you run in the other direction? And the irony of the situation? The success of the Haitian slave revolt convinced Napoleon to pull out the Americas and to sell Louisiana to the United States, which brought about the notion of Manifest Destiny - the idea that it was God's will that the United States should encompass the entire continent. So who was the architect of this plan, God or Satan?
The God I know does not enslave men -- men enslave men. I don't believe God condones slavery anymore than he caused this terrible earthquake.
I believe that people err when they suppose that God is either the cause of suffering in the world or that he doesn't care about those who suffer. Nor do I believe that He is powerless to do anything about the pain and tragedy in the world. But the God I know -- the God I worship, our Father -- values agency above all else. This is how he proves us. This is how he refines us. It is His greatest gift to each of us -- the ability to choose right or wrong. God has given us the chance to be our best selves, to be true to our own divine nature, but we can only rise to that nobility by facing, understanding, and turning away from it's opposite. Without pain, we cannot know healing. Without sorrow, we wouldn't know joy.
I think sometimes things happen for a reason, and sometimes they just happen. Sometimes it is a direct result of God's will, sometimes it's just the course of things. It's not for us to declare which is which -- our responsibility is to respond to each situation in a manner that shows God that we are worthy of the great trust He longs to place in us.
The God I know is a loving Father, not a vengeful monster.
50,000 people are dead in Haiti. We have heard Pat Robertson's response.
What will ours be?