This Sunday we had a great meeting that generated a good deal of discussion in the group (and hopefully in your homes as well). In light of the earthquake in Haiti, we took time out of our study in Ephesians to ask the questions, "Where is God when tragedy strikes?" and "What should our response (as the church) be?" Wow! Our students really have some great insights and thoughts on this. The discussion went from the effect of sin and the fall to seeing God glorified by serving. We discussed the now infamous statements made by Pat Robertson and how it differs from what the response of the church should be and even how it is inconsistent with the Biblical message illustrated in Luke 13:1-5; that every one of us are worthy of judgment because there are none righteous. As one student pointed out, Job is a great example of how tremendous suffering isn't necessarily the result of personal sin while his "friends" were quick to assume Job's situation was God's judgment.
Ultimately I see the right response to involve the following components:
1. Grieve (1 Cor 12:26; Ps 56:8) - this tragedy did not discriminate between the righteous and unrighteous. The faithful were hit as well as unbelievers and so we have family suffering and need to remember that. That's not to imply that we only grieve because believers are suffering. All people are made in the image of God and worthy of compassion and love.
2. Serve (Acts 11:28-29; 1 Cor 16:1) - the early church set the precedent that when brothers are suffering then the body helps. That may mean some go and that may mean some send and support through prayer and finances. Either way, we don't ignore it.
3. Pray (Php 1:19-20) - this is tied closely to number 2. We should never forget that when we pray we are approaching the infinite, sovereign, good God who both created and will one day judge the earth. He is powerful to take something that was the terrible result of a sin cursed world and bring something good from it.
4. Hope (Rev 21:4) - ultimately this is not our home and we look forward to the day that the results of sin will be wiped away. As believers we bring that hope to the world, especially those who have nothing to hope in.