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Asking “Why” About Haiti

I love the wild and unpretentious things that spring forth from my children’s mouths like, “Mommy, when you’re mad your eyes get red!”  Or “Mommy, I put pee pee in the potty!  I’m a big boy!  You put pee pee in the potty too!  You a big girl!” – such sweet innocence.  Sometimes their simplistic views and profound observations make me smile.  I love to listen to my children discover life – taking in all the wonderment of this world they occupy.


However, recently Sydney has been asking some pretty deep questions.  Much, much heavier content than, “Why do you wear make-up?” and “Do I really have to be a grown up someday?”  Lately the questions she’s been throwing my way have been inspired by the tragedy in Haiti.  “Did God make the earthquake?”  “Why did it happen?”  “Why did God let it happen?”  “Did those people do something wrong?”  Joel and I are not ones to throw petty answers at our children when they ask us tough questions, realizing at the same time, we need to keep our answers 6-year-old friendly.


As I was forming a response in my head, I felt overwhelmed.  How do I explain that the same God we have taught her about since she was squirming around in my womb – the God who is loving, compassionate, our protector, Who has good things for His children, Whom she has invited into her life – would allow an earthquake to trample a city to the ground, killing thousands upon thousands of men, women and children?  How do I explain the character of God to a 6-year-old, without confusing or skewing the image of such a gracious, merciful and forgiving Heavenly Father? 


Sorting out the best way to answer, I started thinking about the people who don’t believe in God at all.  Perhaps they are asking the same questions as my little girl.  What would I say to them?


Here is the response I came up with:


God is good, but sometimes, bad things happen.  Sometimes God allows tragedy because He knows what is best for us.  Just like I allow Sydney to make mistakes, knowing full well the consequence in the end will not be a pleasant one.  While God is in control of all the earth and everything in it, He still gives it permission to operate, rotate, breathe in and breathe out, fulfilling its cycles as it was created to do. 


Could He have saved those who perished?  Yes.  He could have.  Was He punishing them, and therefore chose not to save them?  No.  While He could have swooped in and protected each one of the earthquake victims, God chose not to.  And quite honestly, we’ll never know why or understand fully as long as we’re living on earth.  That’s a tough answer to swallow.  We like to know why.  We like to understand and rationalize and make sense of uncertainties.  It is very difficult to settle with the fact that we won’t always know why.


Here’s the thing.  Life is precious to God.  His character will always be good, righteous, holy and pure.  But we live in a broken world.  When Adam and Even chose to disobey the one command God gave to them in the Garden of Eden, sin entered into the picture…and life has never been the same.  Bad things are going to happen.  Good and bad people alike will suffer here on earth.  Even Christians will suffer. 


Could it be, though, that God sees a picture far, far bigger than the one we are looking at right now?  Could it be that from the devastation good will emerge?  Love will bloom where once it had no root?  That those who’s hearts were hardened to God, may, in fact, be melting at this very moment?  It’s difficult to imagine that anything good could come from this, but I don’t see all the details, or the full scope of the image God sees.  Could it be that while we are searching to understand why, God is already at work answering our questions, opening up our eyes to His panoramic view, little by little?  And while we may never see it fully, we may at least catch a tiny glimpse of the image God sees, and realize He was always good, and He was there the whole time.


I think it’s great to ask why, and I’m so touched that Sydney would feel comfortable to ask such questions of me, and my husband.  Sometimes I might be able to give a clear-cut answer, but other times, like this, I won’t.  She’ll have to learn to settle for the fact that not all “whys” have answers.  She’ll have to wrestle with it on her own, just as all of us do.  But the one thing I pray she will hold on to for her entire life is that God is good…no matter what.

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4 Responses to “Asking “Why” About Haiti”

  1. Kristin says:

    Thinking about these tragic events always reminds me of the fact that His ways are NOT our ways, or HIs thoughts our thoughts. And thank goodness. While I don’t understand His ways quite often, I’m also glad that He has the burden of knowing the future, not me.

  2. Amy says:

    Kristin, you are absolutely right! Thanks for stopping by. :)

  3. sister sheri says:

    These are the tough questions. I’ve found that I get to know how much I trust the Lord by how I explain God to Christopher.

    Good post for inquiring minds!

  4. Amy says:

    So true, Sheri…so true.

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