The Deadly Earthquake in Haiti: Why Would a Good God Allow Such Pain and Suffering?

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Dr. Bob Gonzales

Puritan Board Junior
The recent earthquake in Haiti (January 12, 2010), which has claimed the lives of tens of thousands and has brought terrible grief and misery to hundreds of thousands, raises the age-old question, Why does God permit pain and suffering? In the video below, Pastor John Piper provides a biblical answer to that question. While the answer does not remove all mystery, it goes a long way toward making human pain and suffering intelligible, and it highlights the oft-repeated biblical principle that God is wise and powerful and good enough to overrule evil for the ultimate good of humanity and glory of his name.

The Deadly Earthquake in Haiti: Why Would a Good God Allow Such Pain and Suffering?

For those interested in a fuller and deeper exploration into the question of how pain, suffering, and evil fits into a Christian and biblical worldview, I highly recommend Donald Carson’s How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil, 2nd edition (Baker Books, 2006).


Puritan Board Sophomore
Couple other reasons that I think God allows all of this to happen (I did not hear these mentioned, but I am not closing myself to the possibility that they were on the video simply because I didn't hear them).

1) We are wretched, filthy, horrifying sinners that have fallen short of the glory of God. God may have predestined man to fall, but in the end, He wasn't the one that made us fall (otherwise the bible we hold dear to would be a lie, because God would be a sinner), we were the ones that chose to fall. We were the ones that ate off that tree, and we were the ones who rebelled against an infinitely worthy God. Some may ask why I seemed to have contradicted myself, because if God predestined it, did He not make them fall?

No. If I were to go into a public parking lot at a major mall in my car, get out, and walk in without locking the doors and setting the alarm, and you were to hop into it, hot wire it and and drive away, is it my fault that you stole the car? I wasn't the one that decided to steal the car for you.

2) I'm going to edit in a sermon jam from John Piper at Passion 2007 shortly, but John Piper in that sermon said that the purpose of God in creating the universe, is to display the glory of his grace, revealed through Jesus Christ. Here's the deal. Universe includes every molecule that is in it. That includes us. God created man in His image, in His likeness (Genesis 1:26?). If we are perfect, God cannot glorify His Son through us, because we are just like Him. It's like you were a billionaire and you went to a convention where the top 30 most wealthy people were in attendance and you get on stage and brag about how much you have. It won't cause jaws to drop in amazement. At the most, it'll cause the audience to shrug it off thinking "So what?". That's why The Fall was predestined; why He willed it, to put Man below the likeness of God, that way when we hear of Him and of the Gospel, PROVIDING God is working in us, we would be floor boarded at it.

I probably preached to the choir on this topic, but I wanted to outline my thoughts on this issue.

EDIT: Video referenced above is below.

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Puritanboard Doctor
Also see Ravi Zacharias explanation of how a good God is in sense a prerequisit for the distingtion of pain and suffering in the first place.


Puritan Board Doctor
I love Voddie Baucham. LOVE. When tackling this issue I prefer to start with this clip. And by the way, this is a great sermon in entirety. I highly suggest it.



Puritan Board Sophomore
Here's what I wrote in an email to my congregation:

Dear congregation and friends,

No doubt you have heard of the devastating earthquake on the small island country of Haiti. Let me offer a few thoughts as well as a course of action. When disaster hits, we learn three things.

First, God is in control. Nothing takes him by surprise; nothing happens by chance. Eph. 1:11; Rom. 8:28; Matt. 6:25-34

Second, disaster, destruction, and death are all effects of the fall and first sin of our father Adam. In this devastation we can hear the birth pangs and groans of a fallen creation that longs for its redemption. Rom. 8:18-25

Third, God uses these occasions to warn the world of a greater judgment to come. Like the plagues upon Egypt and the suffering depicted in the book of Revelation, calamity is a means that God uses to preach the law to the world to humble them in their sins and to cause them to cry out to him through Jesus Christ for mercy. Ex. 7-10; Rev. 6, 8-9, 16

Below is information from Word & Deed, a Reformed relief ministry, concerning the situation in Haiti. Let us call upon the Lord to revive His people through this, to awaken sinners to salvation, and to provide for the tangible needs of these people through deeds as a means of bringing the gospel through the Word.


Pastor Danny


Puritan Board Doctor
I love Voddie Baucham. LOVE. When tackling this issue I prefer to start with this clip. And by the way, this is a great sermon in entirety. I highly suggest it.


This made me think of these verses:

Lamentations 3:22
It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

Malachi 3:6
For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.


Puritan Board Graduate
Dave- very timely indeed. Thanks.

I've been thinking a lot about the verse that He will give nations in exchange for your life. I saw Haitian orphans on TV meeting their American Christian parents for the first time, and the parents thanking and praising God, and I could only think that thousands may have died so that these children- chosen by God before the foundation of the world- might be rescued from darkness and brought into Christian homes and eternal life.

Isaiah 43:4

Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you,and people in exchange for your life.
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