One of the ways that we as Christians can easily miss the point is in regard to God’s nature. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for Christians and non-Christians alike is our lack of ability to grasp the sense of unthinkable tragedy. Often times, our first response is to question God (Why did this happen?) or even to lay blame (Why did YOU let this happen?) Why would a God who professes to love allow thousands of people to be lost in a moment? Why would a God who speaks of redemption turn his back when an innocent child is murdered? It doesn’t make sense. Yet, as Jesus shows us in the following scriptures, these questions miss the point.
Click on the link to read the following scripture: John 9:1-12
In this passage, the church folk see a man in need and, instead of helping, ask Jesus who sinned to bring about his suffering. Jesus’ response? No one. This man’s suffering was not a fault of his own or anyone else. “Why” was not the point. The point was that through this man’s suffering God’s glory was revealed.
Go with me to one more passage: Luke 13:1-5 Again, the message is similar. God does not rain down suffering for sin. Rather, he offered his own son as a sin offering for each of us. When tragedy strikes, it is not God punishing, but rather it becomes an opportunity for us to live out our faith and to show the love of God to a world in need.
One of the things my husband has heard said often of the reconstruction following Hurricane Katrina is that Christians have re-built the Gulf Coast. Christian groups, churches and organizations are still re-building down in the Gulf over five years after the destruction from Katrina. In the midst of great tragedy, God’s love has been shown. And that is our call today, to show the love of God in the midst of the darkness of the world while remembering that in all things God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good. (Romans 8:28)
I know there are many faith-based relief organizations that will be working through the crisis in Japan. One such organization is the United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR). UMCOR has the distinction of being one of the first organizations on the ground when tragedy strikes and the last organization to leave. No money donated to UMCOR goes to overhead costs, like utilities, office space and salary. Rather, each dollar donated to UMCOR goes directly to helping those in need. It’s one way to make a difference, but there are many others. Our challenge and purpose, as people who have been redeemed, is to find ways to share that redemption story with others, to look for opportunities to fight the cynicism and pessimism of our society with acts of mercy and hope. This is what Jesus was talking about when he called us to love–love God, love others. The first flows freely into the second. So let me ask you this–who will you love today?
Blessings and Peace,