Home > Haiti, News & Current Events, Personal > An open letter to God, re: Haiti

An open letter to God, re: Haiti

WARNING: Objectionable photos below the cut. Viewer discretion is advised.

Dear God,

I know I’m supposed to pray in a private place with the door shut and stuff but I hope you won’t excuse me writing this and making it public. I think some people feel the same way I do. I can’t officially speak for them but I know I’m not alone when I ask you the following:

Do you hate the Haitian people?

No, I mean, seriously? Like, do you hate them? Did Satan make a deal with you that he’d pick this one country in the Western Hemisphere and beat it down and allow all others to look comfortable in comparison? Is Pat Robertson right? Did you curse this country because some idiot slaves wanted to be free from French rule?

I am conflicted, Lord. I was born in New York. I am a first-born American. Yet, Haitian blood flows through my veins. I am more related to a country that was reigned by terror and plagued with fear than a country that gave people of my skin color the right to attend any school of their choosing only 45 years ago. I have never known the fear of Papa Doc and Baby Doc but then again, I have never known the fear of the Ku Klux Klan or other white supremacy organizations. I feel straddled between two countries.

I have never been to Haiti. Out of concern for my safety and protection, my mother and father would never take me there. “It’s not the country it used to be,” they lament.

Lord, were there ever glory days in Haiti? What was it like when my parents were growing up? They speak of it fondly as though those were the good ol’ days. But you allowed my grandfather to be gunned down in cold blood during those good ol’ days. Political strife was still present even back then.

Even though I have never been to Haiti, it is a country my parents grew up in. I am first-generation. I guess I don’t need to tell you that; you ordained it. As a result, when I see the images of bodies strewn everywhere, buried under rubble, piled up on one another–I am cut to the quick.

For the first time, I saw a tragedy and I cried. I looked at pictures of bodies piled up everywhere. Some naked bodies, hands with blood, limbs covered in concrete dust, and I thought, “God, you hate Haitian people. You really do.”

Mudslides, hurricanes, flooding, and now this.

A 7.3-magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti–and Haiti alone. Sure, the Dominican Republic–that shares the same ISLAND–felt something but they’ve got no damage to show for it. And Cuba? Well, Cuba experienced a small shake but nothing that made them really afraid. Nope, God, YOU chose Haiti.

The political strife, those stupid Macoutes–sure, it’s easy to attribute that to man’s sin, man’s doing. Sure, I can buy that.

But then all these natural disasters… constantly… and I wonder if you’re just out to wipe Haiti off the face of the earth.

I mean, if you want to do it, just DO IT. You’ve reduced Port-au-Prince, my mother’s hometown, to nothing but RUBBLE.

Tens of thousands to maybe even HUNDREDS of thousands could lie dead under rubble, God.

Okay, I’ll be honest here. I know I have no right to challenge you. I know the verses from Romans 9:

O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

The created shouldn’t challenge the creator. I’ve read Job; I understand that. But God, I can’t look at these pictures and think that you’re a loving and just God. This is the time when I’m supposed to believe your ways are higher than mine and I should just trust and believe your word. But God, those people, had value. Did you simply create them to toss them to the side? What was the purpose of this? What GOOD can come of this, Lord? These were LIVES. Those people might have relatives in this country frantically searching for them.

Dear God, did they not have value to you? Did you not care for them? Did you decide to simply put many of them out of their misery for whatever reason? Were they even miserable?

I cried for them, God. Someone’s got to. They couldn’t even die with dignity. They aren’t buried with dignity. Many of them will not be buried with dignity. They’ll probably be thrown into mass graves. Some of them serve as roadblocks and barriers. These are no longer names and faces; they are bodies and statistical numbers that feed into a body count.

And I know it’s not over. You’re not done with the Haitian people. I mean that in the most pessimistic way possible. You send all sorts of natural disasters. That’s NOT under man’s control–that’s under YOUR control. Why Haiti, Lord? Pour kisa Ayiti, bon Dieu?

Forgive me for being insolent, for challenging you, for being so direct. But my heart bleeds for those who can no longer bleed. The situation looks dire and even now, politics are being played with people’s lives. I’m angry and upset. You could have prevented this. You’re supposed to be a just and loving God. How is this just? How is this loving? How is this fair?

I admit, I feel more outrage than I ever have because I consider these people to be a people I also belong to. Many blacks in this country call themselves African American. Well, I’m a smart ass–I’m Haitian American before I’m ever African American. Haitians are composed of African, French, and Taino Native Indian blood which means I’m not solely African.

So I cry, I hurt, and I grieve for these nameless and faceless people who are considered nothing more than corpses now.

I have no answers, Lord. Just the same question:

Why? Pourquoi? Why?

Forgive me in Jesus’s name for being bold Your majesty,
Me

(photos from boston.com)

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  1. January 16, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    I copied and pasted the tweets from before so that my further comments would make sense:

    @mama_kass I don’t think there’s a thing wrong with your questions and anger and sadness. I understand it completely. I know He does. Within that, though, is this: God allows natural processes to occur–hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, mudslides. And it is tragic that a country like Haiti should suffer this. It is awful that the poverty and bad governance that caused the building of such fragile structures and infrastructures should be the cause of such greater suffering than should occur anywhere else. The consequences of nature and life are not removed constantly by His care, merely we are given what it takes to wade through to the other side. Perhaps the attention of the world, the help of thousands of volunteers will bring a greater good out of this unfathomable tragedy. i don’t know.
    But I do know that God doesn’t mind when we rail.

    @N1tSt4lker You sure about that? God brought the smackdown on Job.

    @mama_kass But He didn’t stop him from questioning. Nor did He stop Jonah. He let them rail. And then answered. In fact, I wouldn’t even use the word “smack-down” for Job. The smack-down was given to his friends. I think we’ve been given that impression from preachers in our backgrounds. But when you look at it, God showed Job His unsearchableness, His power, His wisdom beyond our understanding. But then He said in Job 42:7-9:
    After the Lord had spoken these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My anger is stirred up against you and your two friends, because you have not spoken about me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job will intercede for you, and I will respect him, so that I do not deal with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken about me what is right, as my servant Job has.
    So they went, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, and did just as the Lord had told them; and the Lord had respect for Job.

    So it seems that the three chapters of patient answers to Job were no so much a smack-down as a parental explanation of “Look, I know you’re struggling, let me show you how completely awesome I am, and then you can see that my ways are truly unsearchable…that above all, I have something in mind that you can’t quite see right now.”

    I think our fundamental background sneaks in during these times. I always thought that God was angry with Moses for questioning the call to Egypt, and so He “took away” the job of talking to Pharaoh and gave it to someone else. But when you actually read it objectively, God very patiently was answering every objection that Moses brought to the table. He is far more patient than we expect.

    At any rate, that’s a slight rabbit trail. Concerning Haiti. It would be, I feel, impossible to look at the devastation and not wonder “why.” Especially when you think how a 7pt. earthquake in most places would cause significantly less death (6.7 in LA in 1994 caused less than a hundred). A very significant part of this situation comes down to the fact that there is 0 oversight of any kind there. It is a devastatingly un-governed country in the areas where governance is most needed–like where to build houses and how to build them. The extreme poverty of this nation has exacerbated the destruction of this. I don’t say that to be flippant or to make light of any part of this. I only say it because God doesn’t always intervene in the mistakes of men. We suffer the consequences of our actions every day. Others suffer the consequences of our actions every day. Yes, God could have put out His hand to stop the earthquake from occurring, but He didn’t. He could have stopped the tsunami that devastated Indonesia in 2004, but He didn’t. I can’t tell you why. I do not know. What I do know is the fact that any of use are spared death on any given day is a miracle of grace. I also know this: that death of any kind is not a reflection of one’s spiritual status or of God’s care. And I know this because of Luke 13:
    Now there were some present on that occasion who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. He answered them, “Do you think these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered these things? No, I tell you! But unless you repent, you will all perish as well! Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower in Siloam fell on them, do you think they were worse offenders than all the others who live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you! But unless you repent you will all perish as well!”

    Our fate in this life, regardless of what fundies or name-it-and-claim-it guys want to spout, is not related to our righteousness or lack thereof. It is merely the outworking of nature, life, and decisions. Being a victim of tragedy isn’t what should amaze us in this broken world; being spared via graze is what should.

    Please know that I am not trying to sound flippant, or that I’ve got all the answers, or that I’m saying you shouldn’t vent your struggle to God. I’m not saying any of those things. Maybe it’s simpler on the scale for me because I was listening to Robertson pronounce stupidity about New Orleans and Katrina whilst being myself out of power, sharing a house with some displaced residents, and knowing that friends and family members would be out of their city/homes for months and knowing the city and her residents. And knowing that he was just spouting his “I’m so much more awesome than you–I can tell who’s under judgment and who’s just a regular old disaster victim” crap.

    This is getting really long. I would so love to just go get some coffee with you and talk. 🙂 Ah well. Just know: God is unsearchable, but He answers our questions and our doubtings and our insecurities. Don’t feel guilty about venting your feelings and thoughts on this to Him. He listens and, patient parent that He is, offers us answers in His way as we wait for them. I hope that doesn’t sound all clichéd and trite.

  2. January 16, 2010 at 7:38 PM

    Something else that popped into my mind whilst pondering this (well, I’m sure the Lord pushed it towards my mind haha): the thing that Eliphaz and cronies were corrected by God for, the thing they said that He said was not right–they were telling Job that he must be suffering because of sin. Their arguments were all centered on the idea that Job had done something to deserve his misfortune and tragedy. And God said they spoke what was not right about Him. I don’t know that I’ve ever put that together quite that way until this moment, but I think it applies to this tragedy as much as it applied to Job’s.

    • Kass
      January 17, 2010 at 1:10 AM

      That’s a very good and important point not to overlook. And I really appreciate you making another comment to bring that to my attention in light of my cousin’s opinion on the disaster.

  3. Emily
    January 18, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    I just want to say that the Psalms are full of passages where David questioned God. He was crying out for answers. Don’t feel guilty–There is nothing wrong with asking God why.

    I had more to say, but I don’t remember what. Old age, I guess… 😛

  4. January 19, 2010 at 7:55 AM

    Kass,

    Thought of you when writing my recent post.

    You are loved!

    Grieving with you,

    Sarah

    http://www.sarahjoyalbrecht.com/2010/01/18/how-do-i-talk-to-my-children-about-the-earthquake-in-haiti-why-did-it-happen-what-can-we-do/

  1. January 12, 2011 at 9:39 PM

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