Does God Hate Haiti?
This is the question I’m seeing asked a lot by theologians and anyone with blog and an opinion. My morning paper this morning presented me with this question as answered by several columnists from Washington Post’s “On Faith” column.
The responses I saw in my paper to the question “Does God hate Haiti” infuriated me enough that I need to answer the question myself.
The answer is a resounding, “NO!”
Humanity has hit a point of unbelievable self-involvement. Sometimes, quite simply, it’s not about us. Maybe the earth just needed to stretch. Why isn’t the question, “Is G!d(dess) is weeping for her children in Haiti?” Or, “What does G!d(dess) expect of us in a tragedy?”
We need to read the book of Job again. Everyone who claims to follow a Jewish or Christian path needs to read this book again. They need to read the actual words, not just what someone else tells them it means. I hear politicians using phrases like, “the patience of Job .” SERIOUSLY? Patient? Have you read the book? He was pissed off, not patient. Faith and patience are not the same thing.
We need to learn the lessons of Job. Sometimes it’s not about us.
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was whole-hearted and upright, and one that feared God, and shunned evil.
אִישׁ הָיָה בְאֶרֶץ עוּץ, אִיּוֹב שְׁמוֹ; וְהָיָה הָאִישׁ הַהוּא, תָּם וְיָשָׁר וִירֵא אֱלֹהִים–וְסָר מֵרָע
(Job 1:1 )
And the LORD said unto Satan: ‘Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thy hand.’ So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל הַשָּׂטָן, הִנֵּה כָל אֲשֶׁר לוֹ בְּיָדֶךָ–רַק אֵלָיו, אַל תִּשְׁלַח יָדֶךָ; וַיֵּצֵא, הַשָּׂטָן, מֵעִם, פְּנֵי יְהוָה
In Jewish tradition “haSatan” (הַשָּׂטָן) is not a fallen angel, the devil of Christian tradition. HaSatan is the accuser. S/He is the prosecutor. He stands at the side of G!d(dess) and plays, quite literally, devils advocate. Where others defend humanity, HaSatan’s role, as set by G!d(dess), is to challenge and test. HaSatan is clearly a title, not a name. Any number of Heavenly hosts may have to fill this role.
In the book of Job, Job is a perfect example of humanity; beloved of G!d(dess):
And the LORD said unto Satan: ‘Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a whole-hearted and an upright man, one that feareth God, and shunneth evil?’
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל הַשָּׂטָן, הֲשַׂמְתָּ לִבְּךָ עַל עַבְדִּי אִיּוֹב: כִּי אֵין כָּמֹהוּ בָּאָרֶץ, אִישׁ תָּם וְיָשָׁר יְרֵא אֱלֹהִים וְסָר מֵרָע
Job becomes a plaything between HaSatan and G!d(dess) to prove a point. It has nothing to do with Job. It’s a chess game. It’s a test. There’s nothing Job did in his life to deserve this, expect be so good, that it made a Heavenly Host question what would it take to make Job curse G!d(dess). And when it turns out that it’s going to take quite a lot — the game still continues.
And the LORD said unto Satan: ‘Behold, he is in thy hand; only spare his life.’
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל הַשָּׂטָן, הִנּוֹ בְיָדֶךָ: אַךְ, אֶת נַפְשׁוֹ שְׁמֹר
Couldn’t Haiti be Job? Couldn’t Haiti be beloved of G!d(dess) and now being used as part of a larger, and unknowable cosmic test?
Or, what if it has nothing to do with us? What if the earth simply needed to stretch?
But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee; Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee; Who knoweth not among all these, that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.–
.וְאוּלָם–שְׁאַל-נָא בְהֵמוֹת וְתֹרֶךָּ; וְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְיַגֶּד-לָךְ
אוֹ שִׂיחַ לָאָרֶץ וְתֹרֶךָּ; וִיסַפְּרוּ לְךָ, דְּגֵי הַיָּם
.מִי, לֹא-יָדַע בְּכָל-אֵלֶּה: כִּי יַד-יְהוָה, עָשְׂתָה זֹּאת
.אֲשֶׁר בְּיָדוֹ, נֶפֶשׁ כָּל-חָי; וְרוּחַ, כָּל-בְּשַׂר-אִישׁ
Sometimes it’s not about us. The animals know this. The plants know this. The earth knows this. Children even know this. Humanity needs to learn this lesson.