The last 4 days I was in Haiti I learned more about pain and suffering than ever before. I learned that yes, Haiti really is “that bad”. I learned that an entire world exists outside the gates that used to hold my Haiti.
Within hours I saw, for the first time with my own eyes, a living victim of January 12th and the pinned up denim where his leg used to be. Then, I saw 11 others.
Over the course of that trip I saw little children with hair that was completely orange from malnutrition. I watched naked babies sit in the dirt outside of their huts doing nothing to swat away the gnats and flies that plagued their infected eyes. I saw little boys run barefoot through streets filled with human waste to beg for “one dollar” from the truckload of foreigners.
I saw stories come to life in the eyes of real live human beings with names, hopes and dreams. I saw the Haiti that I have always heard of but never experienced. I saw the Haiti I craved, and hated. I saw the truth outside of the rock walls of my comfort zone.
I prayed that God would put me in a world that would break my heart and force me out of the bubble I had created. When He did it rocked my world. I realized that I wasn’t nearly as prepared as I thought I would be. On Friday afternoon, for the first time in a long time, I cried tears in the dust of Haiti. I cried for the crippled beggars that were left in the streets. I cried for the man who has turned to a bottle of rum to ease his pain as he sits day after day outside the rubble of the home he had spent his entire life building, the place that is now the grave of his wife and children. I cried for the curse that is upon us.
It took this kind of living among for me to realize that this life I hate so much is the very life we are meant to live. All those years ago, when man fell God announced our fate.
“To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." - Genesis 3:16-19
In North America we have created countless things to diminish the pain of the curse that is upon us. We push it away with an array of things that make our lives comfortable and easy. We’ve found ways to outwit the day to day pain that we were meant to live. We have built our golden calves and “gods” but none has yet figured a way around the very worst of the punishment. “For dust you are and to dust you will return." We can push a lot away but we can’t save ourselves from death. We can slide around a lot of the physical pain that we deserve but when it comes down to it we are still under that curse from so long ago.
How many times have you listed in your head, all the things you want to do before Jesus comes back? How many of us have our “bucket list” all mapped out? All the plans we have and the things we find important make it hard to want to leave this place.
The mother standing in the dark for hours every night as rain waters pour into her tent and soaks her children, does not beg for “one more day”. The man who stands under the hot beating sun chipping away at massive slabs of cement with just a hammer doesn’t ask to be given “just a little more time here”. Someone who lives a life of hard work, endless pain and hunger, longs for something more. They realize that what is to come is so much better than what this world can offer.
We are appalled by Haiti and we very well should be but I have to argue to hear someone say “it just isn’t right” I disagree. As much as I hate it it’s exactly right. It’s the life that our bodies are forced to live and our souls are meant to hate. It’s ugly and painful and it breaks our hearts but how would we know the healing of Heaven if we never experienced the true pain of Earth? When we live in a world where we don’t face pain how will we ever fully realized the glory that is waiting?
Perhaps, instead of pitying those who face such pain we should learn to envy them. For as great as their trial is here on Earth, how sweeter the reward of Heaven will be.