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May 23, 2008

In The Face Of Tragedy

Yesterday in our weekly team meeting we prayed again for three people we know who are dying from cancer.

Later that day I received an email requesting prayer for Steven Curtis Chapman and his family as they face the tragic death of their youngest daughter.

Today, on my walk home there was a tiny bird squeaking in the grass - its wing broken. I don't know if it will make it.

Sometimes the world just seems to press in on you; taking your breath away as it confronts you with sorrow upon sorrow. There's no avoiding it, no looking away and smelling the flowers. It's just too awful?and your heart can't take it. You groan for a new heaven and a new earth. This one is just so broken.

130,000 dead in Myanmar. 2 million more homeless.

Over 55,000 dead in China. 25,000 more unaccounted for. 4,000 children orphaned.

Who can stand in the face of such tragedy?

Today I have more questions than answers.

I know what I want to ask. I'm afraid to ask it. But it's what everyone is asking right now, isn't it?

How can a good God let this happen? How can he stand by and do nothing? And, why? Why? Why did this happen?

I know the arguments: we've been given free will; it's a broken world; God is in control.

But none of them seem like enough - not today. My heart hurts too much.

There are two things I do know. Two things that give my heart solace and hope.

If I hurt this much in the face of such distant pain?how much more the heart of God who knows by name every one of those dead. I grieve with the Holy Spirit - moved to share in the sufferings and passions of Christ. This is why he came. God loves the world so much.

God does not stand by and do nothing. In Acts, God sent his Holy Spirit to his people. God works through us, his people, his Church. We are God's answer to a hurting world - we must point people to Christ's love, healing, redemption.

Does it feel like enough? No. Does it answer all my questions? Definitely not.

But what are you feeling? What are your questions? How are you reconciling these tragedies? What is your church doing?

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Recently my only sister died in my homeland. The day I received news of her death was my first day at home after spending one week in hospital from a major surgery.

I cried to God and ask Him why He had taken my sister when I cannot fly or leave my house.

My prayer was answered almost immediately. You see had suffered from extreme pain due to osteoarthritis - if I was going home without surgery I would still be in pain now as it is difficult to find a suitable time to operate for both me and my surgeon. God knew I was short with cash - if I had gone to my homeland, I would have put myself in more debt as it would include my airfare and accomodation.I sent enough money back to my homeland and my nieces and nephews were grateful.I did not have to borrow any money. Above all my sister was suffering and God did not want her to suffer any more. God's plan is always the best plan.

Although we feel sorry for those whose lives have been taken by natural disasters throughout the world, we have to accept that it is natures way of controlling world population - we cannot prevent it from happening.The movement of winds and land masses is part of nature - we cannot stop it.

What we can do if we are not affected is to give our love to those who survive and to show them that God still love them. We show our love by donating to organizations who are going across the world to assist the devastated community.

I hear what you are saying and I too have thought these thoughts and wondered where God may found in these things.

There is so much tragedy in the world and there has been so much tragedy in my world that I have struggled to bear it. But how do you or I measure the trials given to either ourselves or to others? I certainly don't have to look too far to think of and to realize there are millions/billions of people I literally would not change places with for any reason. My burdens and my trials have been comparitively light and I fear I would break under the yokes that others have had to wear.

So yesterday as I drove home feeling sorry for my own losses I yet again pondered as I often do the nature of God and what God's point is in all that has occured in my own life and in this world of lives around me. Then, I felt my usual guilt pricking me for my lack of gratitude for all the horrible possibilities for trials that I myself have been spared and I thought of my own selfish dwellings upon my personal trials and hurts which could be so much more severe.

God, our three in one saving Lord, is a three in one Lord for good reason. God, our father, has been so hurt and so frustrated by our human race that He nearly gave up on us more than once and wiped us out...but like any good seems to me that He always kept alive for us a spark of hope that our potentials were not lost completely. To balance His hope for us against His despair for our seeming hopelessness required that the intercessor, the Christ, who argues endlessly for us and who sacrificed Himself for us had to come.

What hope of turning our disappointed Father's heart toward us could we have without Christ? If it had not been for Christ standing in the gap between us and His despair and by His own blood sacrifice He had not openned up a way for us back to our disappointed and disillusioned Father's heart - what would any of us have to hope for? Is it any wonder that He is the way, the truth, and the light.

God the Father no longer talks to us as he did in the garden when he walked beside our kind in common and direct coversation. Our Father distanced himself from us because we hurt, angered, and disappointed Him so. But, like a truly loving parent, as much as we disappointed and hurt Him, He did not completely despair for us and He kept a spark of hope for us alive. In Christ and with the Holy Spirit, He still communes with us even as our sins have separated us from Him.

The vision of my triune God is for me the very essence of realizing the loving, hurt, hopeful, yet painfully disapointed parent reflected in all of us who have known the pain of our own betrayals. Judge not, but move forward each day with the yoke that has been given to you and do your part by picking up the crosses of those whose loads are laid in your path to help. This is our lot here until our Lord does come again to set things right. Let us love one another to the best of our abilities and carry each other as we can with the assurance of Christ as our intercessor and the Holy Spirit to speak within us and to our Lord for us until we are really reconciled and the world is made right again by Him.

Our time here is one of trials. This fact is no more cruelly illustrated than by Christ's passion for us and by the total brutality of his suffering that was physically, emotionally, psychologically, socially and spiritually beyond what I could endure. Who among us has suffered so without complaint and for the good of ungrateful and abusive people who laughed at His suffering for the most part treated his suffering like it was some kind of a dark public entertainment.

Every day we are here is just one step in our journey back to our Lord. The steps of this journey are laid out the way they are for reasons unknown to us, but the steps are necessary or we would not be taking them. I hope often most fervently that I am equal to what I am asked to bear and I realize I should never forget to be grateful for those things I have not been asked to bear. Though often, I am weak and I do fall short of the gratitude I should have for what I have not been given to endure.

I cannot tell you how timely and encouraging this post is for me. I have been wrestling with these very same questions myself. Thank you for your honesty. It always seems that God allows us to suffer and ask why, so that we may bring light and hope to someone else in need.

The big picture the holy spirit paints for us is a big harvest waiting to be gathered
(good and bad) at one time because of GODS grace.He's a patient GOD not wanting any to perish but have eternal life with him.I believe GOD loves our children more than we do.He created us so his love is bigger than we can uderstand.Were given free choice as a result of our choice GOD has to allow our lives to play itself out.Were blessed enough to be thankful that he doesnt allow us to live like this for eternalty but to quicken things up for our own good.Everyday keep those thought in your mind and be thankful that our loveones who arent here any longer, do not have to live in this terrible flesh we live in anymore.Instead they will be living with GOD waiting for us to come and join them.Give PRAISES to our FARTHER always for this reason.
Your brother in CHRISTS Herb.

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