Thanks for yesterday’s post on the earthquake, Ben. It was timely and well-written. My thoughts take a slightly different angle, but come to similar conclusions.
Her swollen face disappeared between her knees as she retched once again. Sitting on the cement curb near the outpatients at Vila Central Hospital, Shelley and her mum were waiting for results from blood tests earlier in the day. Scans had already confirmed a diagnosis of kidney failure; the real question was “What next?” For twenty-four year old Shelley, her heart could not forget two year old Miriam, her little daughter. Watching her weep for her baby’s future, her eyes both anguished and exhausted, I could hardly speak for grief. How do we respond to such sorrow in a way that glorifies our God?
Besides these every day encounters with individual struggles, countless stories of personal pain from natural disasters have racked our region with sorrow and loss these last few months. And now with the horror of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, thousands more have been literally swept away in an inescapable torrent. Isn’t your heart bleeding for those who have lost so much, for those who will never have another chance to respond with faith to God’s love?
Whether we grieve for an individual or for a nation, what are we doing about that grief? News headlines surround us, but what are we doing about that news? What should be our response to the stark reality that mankind is far from controlling his own destiny as these life circumstances clearly demonstrate? How do we respond to the truth that every person in the world has a ticket to leave this life though he knows not what is written on it?
We must help in practical ways. The laws of God’s kingdom are laws of giving, so let’s give and give generously. Those who suffer are fellow human beings, made in God’s image, for whom Jesus died. Whether a neighbour in crisis or the afflicted far away, give of your time, your resources, your self to help alleviate their suffering.
We must pray. Pray for God’s love and grace to flow in practical ways through His people. Pray for the gospel to be shared with power. Pray for repentance for sinners. Pray for healing for the nations.
We must speak up. Tell that grieving friend of God’s love and mercy in Christ. Let her know that in the midst of sorrow there is hope in Jesus alone. Share a verse; pause to pray aloud; honour the name of Jesus. Let’s not think that our well-meaning platitudes and intellectual reasoning have the power to minister the healing balm of the gospel. We need the power of God as we share the Word of God, bathed with the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.
Who knows? Perhaps these disasters, perhaps the personal crisis Shelley is facing (and others like her), will be the beginning of a spiritual harvest.
When [Jesus] saw the crowds,he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38