Prayer, Plain and Simple

I apologize for Pat Robertson’s foul mouth.  The man needs discretion, to say the least. And if Dr. Robertson cannot find enough “fruit of the Spirit” growing in his own soul – particularly self control – then perhaps prudent brothers and sisters should remind him of the responsibility he bears managing the bully pulpit he commands. Here’s my reminder…

Robertson’s recent claims that Haiti has been ravaged by a 7.0 earthquake BECAUSE its people made a “pact with the devil” was, in the face of the unimaginable death and suffering of the Haitian people, insensitive, foolish and at least partially inaccurate. To imply that such devastation is simply an “act of God” is reasoning from a simpleton aimed at simplistic minds. I reject the blanket notion that God did this as judgment on Haiti and Haitians. We live on a complex and dangerous planet. As Jesus said, “the rain falls on the just and unjust.” Bad stuff sometimes just happens.

However… In my rush to distance myself from Robertson’s impropriety, I cannot overlook the truth in at least part of his contention. Yes, I am here admitting that I concede one aspect of his notion.

I believe that there is a devil, a real devil. I believe the beast is loose in the world and opposed to God’s purposes. I believe, as does the Bible, as did Jesus, that the devil has help in the form of other spiritual beings, and that together this “force” of evil seeks to control both individual humans and groups of individual humans. I believe it’s possible for humans to cooperate with the devil and his troops just as we can cooperate with God and his angels. I also believe there are consequences to our spiritual choices – practical consequences. I believe the poverty and affliction resident in Haiti – both before and after this natural disaster – does stem in part from that culture’s institutionalized occult religion, a form of spirituality called voodoo that openly invites spiritual beings under Satan’s command to involve themselves in human life.

There… said…

Voodooism clearly creates two problems. On the mere human level it fosters an atmosphere of despair and fear, where humans feel helpless against forces of evil who do as they choose. This negative faith makes them feel like victims. The result is a society wracked by paralysis. People living in this system don’t act in their own best interests because they don’t believe they can influence reality. Instead of taking the effort to build strong houses that can withstand earthquakes, they say, “What’s the use,” and stack bricks one atop another in whatever way seems easiest. Poverty doesn’t cause hopelessness, hopeless causes poverty, and spiritual despair causes hopelessness.  

Voodooism causes problems on the spiritual level as well, assuming we believe in actual invisible spiritual forces. To open the door to Satan probably does invite curses and afflictions. If there really is a devil, and if his actions can impact the world, could it be that a nation whose president did officially dedicate his country to the devil has passively initiated this wave of curses and devastation? But we have to be careful here… Such a belief does not assign the blame of disaster on God, but rather on evil forces turned loose on the land.

Okay, so Robertson might be at least partially right… What he said, when he said it, and how, was still idiotic, offensive and not at all like Jesus. One can right and utterly wrong. We dare not stand over these fallen and broken and grieving souls with a haughty “tsh, tsh!” Instead, we should grieve with them and for them, and extend a hand, and intercede for their spiritual and physical salvation.

Our response must be compassion not condemnation, then in the wake let us lend a hand and a heart and from our own brokenness over theirs help them rebuild their broken nation, not only physically but spiritually.

“God, we do not assume to understand your mysteries. We don’t ask why disaster strikes. That is not our question. We do know there is great evil in the world, both in nations like Haiti but also more covertly in nations like our own. We come humbly to you and to these people who have suffered so much. As you tell us, we bind the work of Satan, in Jesus’ name.  We pray, without a sense of self-righteousness that you will change the spiritual foundations of Haiti as we help rebuild the physical foundations of their cities. Forgive our superior haughtiness believing that we are somehow more righteous than they are. We all need your grace. And from that grace, we all can walk in your strength. Bless Haiti with a new day, a miraculous recovery, and a final freedom from the grip of oppression and evil. And in the process, as we pray and serve, do the same for us as well… In Jesus…”


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