Thursday, February 25, 2010

In A Time of Crisis

Two weeks ago, an earthquake made its presence felt as buildings fell, thousands died, and countless were left homeless in the country of Haiti. I didn't feel it in New Jersey at first - but after a while I began to feel the reverberations in the news reports. The more I heard and saw, the more I was left shaken. As Mark Driscoll put it - I'm haunted by Haiti. In addition to Haiti, tragedy strikes every day. Think about it. Right now, as you read this –
• people are dying from sickness
• there is abuse, murder, rape, and kidnapping
• many are without homes
• terrorists are plotting their next attack
The list could go on and on.

Whether or not we are experiencing tragedy at a particular moment – the aftershocks are going on in our lives through the questions that are asked. Tragedy causes people to search and we need to be prepared to give them direction. Here are a couple of the more popular questions that are asked by a world looking for answers –
What good could possibly come from this tragedy? You say that God loves us. You say He has a purpose and that good will come of this. Like what? First, God's sovereign goodness is seen throughout Scripture. The classic New Testament passage is Romans 8:28 – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God causes all things – the all things is the hard part because that is made up of what we call the good thing and bad things. There is really no denying the good that comes out of tragedy when people respond – 9/11, the tsunami, Haiti, etc., all clearly display God's glory, through His working, for those who are open to seeing it.
Another question that is asked is - How should this event change me? That is an excellent question to ask God in prayer. However, I don’t think it's one we often ask because we're afraid of what God might do in us or what God might ask us to do. But we need to put ourselves aside and ask God to change us – to work in us so He can work through us.

Change demands action. So what steps of obedience can we take to show our world Christ today?

1. We need to pray (Eph. 6.18). That might sound clich̩ but the truth is we can do nothing in our own strength Рwe must ask the Lord for His strength. We also need to pray for those who are suffering Рthat God would show them His purposes, love, grace, mercy, and glory.
2. This is the day to be a bold witness for Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5.10). People are looking for answers. This is a time to speak up for Jesus. Open our mouths, Lord, and fill them with the good news you've provided.
3. We can respond to God's call to help in tangible ways. The Chinese word for crisis is made up of two symbols – each with their own meaning. The first symbol means danger. The second symbol means opportunity. So many of you gave generously from your hearts to our church family's efforts to support aid/relief to Haiti. Thank you for your kindness, I am so proud of our church. But continue to be on the alert for opportunities, now in Haiti, but also elsewhere, and then act on the need. Ask God for a willing heart and the rest of you will follow.