Pulpit Reflections

There are several important lessons to learn from the recent disaster in Haiti, lessons that actually are common to the series of disasters that seem continuously to plague mankind, but to which most of us just seem to close our eyes and minds. The first of these lessons is humility. We simply do not run the world, and it is foolish arrogance to think otherwise. We have no more power to stop earthquakes than have previous generations. Yet, we live in a part of the world where things go the way we want them to go so much of the time that we begin to think that we are the cause of our own success. How ironic! We hunker down helplessly one day under an ice storm, not able to stop one raindrop, and the next day we are deciding to spend billions on manmade "climate control."

The fact is that God controls the world, and He not only does not consult with us, He tells us why things happen the way they do. Jesus specifically tells us that the age in which we live will be characterized by "wars and rumors of wars, "because "nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places" (Mat. 24:6-7). This is exactly what has been happening the last 2,000 years and yet many of us tend to look down upon those who take the Bible to be true in what it says. This is the second lesson; we have no means to understanding history if we do not listen to the God who rules it.

Well then, why do these bad things happen? I'm glad you asked, because God tells us that He brings these disasters upon the earth to wake us all up to the fact that we are sinners who need to repent and seek forgiveness from Him. Jesus said, "Those 18 upon up the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think they were sinners more than all men who dwelt in Jerusalem, I tell you. No, but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:4-5). In verse 1-3 of the same chapter He says the same thing about people who were cruelly murdered by Pontius Pilate. In other words, "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23), and there is no human being, man, woman or child who will escape it, because we are all sinners. Some would like to tell us that death is normal, but the vast outpouring of sympathy for victims of disasters tell us that this is poppycock. None of us like the idea of dying.

These verses in Luke 13 also tell us that folks who suffer disasters are not worse than the rest of us. Are they sinners, worse than the rest of you? Jesus asks, and answers His own question with "No way." Another time His disciples asked, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, because he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither one but that the works of God might be displayed clearly." Not only are these things under God's control, God's purpose is that by knowing this we will have real comfort in the face of our own uncertainty. Image the difference between Daniel going into the lion's den, or David going into battle with the sure knowledge that God is with him, compared to the terror of believing that this is just a roll of the dice.

The fact is that we do have the comfort of God's presence no matter whether we survive great danger, or we die, as we all will some day. This is because while the "wages of sin is death," Romans 6:23 goes on to say, "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." You and I can go through life knowing and believing the real God, or we can make life a roll of the dice. This choice is ours, but reality isn't. Haiti did happen.

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