Live With Haiti In Your Heart

Published on January 14, 2010 by CT in Blog, Thoughts


Haiti saddens me.  It saddens me in part because so many have lost so much.  It also saddens me because I care so little.

I don’t say this flippantly.  I say this because it’s the reaction I have right now.  It’s not something I’m proud of; it’s simply what’s going on at this moment in my head and in my heart.  Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a personal connection with anyone in Haiti.  Perhaps it’s because I don’t have the kind of compassion I know I should have.

But this news does do something deep inside me.  It affirms a gnawing feeling that there’s so much more to life and faith than what I know today.  Today, I care about getting to bed late because I went to a UConn game with co-workers.  Today, I care about wondering how many people are buying my new book.  Today, I care about myself when there are others who need me to care about them.

Seeing suffering awakens me from the slumber of my ignorance, reminds me of my own self-centeredness, and plunges my theology into the deep water of reality.  Is God sovereign, even as the earth heaves and fires are kindled?  Is He good, even as the last cries of the dead drift quietly into the silence?

We know the rain falls on the just and the unjust.  We know the Lord brings disaster on cities.  We know He brings healing to the nations.  We know He permits Satan to wreak havoc on His people.  We know He restrains the devil.  We know Jesus weeps over the lost.  We know that some are born into suffering so that God might be glorified.  There’s deep theology here, an ocean of questions and answers that flow in and through one another and leave us in one of two places:  wondering where God is in the midst of suffering, or wondering at the mystery of this God who works all things, including suffering, for good according to His purposes.

I spent my lunch hour in a cemetery today.  I don’t mean to be morbid, but it’s good to go to the place of the dead to be reminded that emails and deadlines and Twitter and phone calls aren’t quite as important as they seem throughout the day.  It’s a good place to be when wondering at the mystery of this God who works all things, including earthquakes in Haiti, for good according to His purposes.  And it’s a good place to go when thinking about what we’re supposed to do next.  So:

Give if God moves you to do so.

Pray with zeal that the glory of God would shine brightly in the midst of this tragedy.

Weep for those whose tears are dried by despair.

Go if God sends you.

But perhaps most of all, live with Haiti in your heart.  In a week, when the blogs and news cycles die down a bit, or in a month, when our lives consume us once more with other things, or in a year, when most of us will have long forgotten the day the earth broke under Haiti, another disaster will strike, and we will be awakened once more to the realization that we care far too much about the trivial and far too little about the eternal.  We’ll be reminded that the bones of dead men testify that our lives are but a vapor.  In that day, we will remember that living with Haiti in our hearts means living with a longing for the One who will bring renewal and restoration to a planet and a people who desperately need both.

My desire is that we give, and pray, and weep, and go, but that most of all we go to the Vine for comfort and hope and joy, even in the midst of great loss.  When buildings fall and lives are ended, we need the earth-shattering, wound-healing, voice of the Son of God who says, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Lord Jesus, make Haiti new, a land where Gospel seeds are planted and Godly fruit grows into an abundant harvest.  And make us new, each and every day of our lives, so that we will abide in You, for Your glory and our joy.

  • Amy

    I love the line, "Seeing suffering awakens me from the slumber of my ignorance" because that's where I'm at today. I am being shaken from my apathetic state as severely as the ground shook in Haiti. How can we see the graphic pictures and read the heart-wrenching stories and possibly go about our day unaffected? God help us all if we do. More importantly, God help the people of Haiti.

    • Chris_Tomlinson

      God help us is right. And God help Haiti. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out on a macro level as well as a personal one. I suppose God means to teach us about Himself during times like these. What will I learn?

  • Bill Wolfe

    I was thinking about Haiti this morning and had a sense that I needed to be more concerned. I really started feeling a burden about it. Then, I opened my RSS reader and saw your post. It connected with me perfectly! Thanks for posting it.

    • Chris_Tomlinson

      You're welcome, Bill. Thank you for reading, and I'm glad you were encouraged by it…

  • David Rupert

    The bottom line in our response is LOVE. Judgement will come later.

    The immediacy of this disaster is thrust right in front our faces. And we do have a responsiblity. "For who much is given, much is required." So what are you going to do?

    Some analysis and ideas are here at the Red Letter Believers blog:

  • Jane Cason

    Thanks for the connecting words. Praying, now, for hearts in Haiti.

  • Sherri, Greer SC

    Praying that Jesus will make Haiti new and that all if the Gospel seeds grow to maturity! Thank you, Chris! and Thank you, God, for Chris' heart!

  • Cheryl T.

    thank you for echoing my own sadness and surprise at wh at can only be described as apathy or unconcern over Haiti's disaster…I usually think of myself as a compassionate and caring person…what's happened here? I wasn't like this after 9/11, or after the terrible terrorist strike in Mumbai….I remember after the big tsunami hit Thiland that day after Christmas, and all those little children were lost on the beach when the wave came in, I cried and struggled with God for weeks about that, how He could allow that to happen to those poor babies….thanks, Chris, for showing me my own disconnect with the pain and suffering of Haiti.God forgive me for not having even once prayed for any of her people. Help me to see Haiti thru the eyes of Jesus, and to weep for her as He wept for Jerusalem.

  • Isa 40:3 – John 1:23

    And alo, my soul will bless the SOVEREIGNLORD, even JESUS at all times. And these things shall herald the coming of the end…(Luke 21). Be no shaken in word, deed or letter…(2Thessalonians 2. 2Timothy 2). Lovest thou thy life…?(Luke 9:24. John 12:25). Are we afraid of Death…?(Luke 5:29, 20:36. John 11:23-25. 1Peter 3:21. Revelation 20:6). And ye shall…(Matthew 25:31-46. James 2.) If ye have Faith…(Jeremiah 31:12-14. 1Thessalonians 4:12-14). Are we being Holy… (1Peter 1:13-17. 1Corinthians 6:15-17. 2Corinthians 6.) What of Judgment…?(Isaiah 13:9-11. Jeremiah 10. Romans 11. John 3:36. Ephesians 5:5-7. Colossians 3:5-7.) Are ye fearful…?(Luke 12:3-5. Revelation 21:8). What happened to Mercy…?(Exodus 33:19. Romans 9:13-18. Matthew 11:28-30. Matthew 12:30-37. 1John 1.)