Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haitians Need to Repent or Perish?

Jesus' disciples came to him with some bad news. Some Galileans were murdered by Pilate during pagan worship. But Jesus didn't say, "Oh what a shame. If only these Galileans had repented of their evil ways!" which is probably what they expected him to say. Rather, Jesus turned it around and asked, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them — do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." (Luke 13:1-9)

As you probably know a great earthquake has shaken Haiti. Relief efforts are underway to help the people there, along with Pat Robertson's ministry. However he also said that the people of Haiti are suffering because they had made a pact with the devil a long time ago when the French had dominion over them.

Whether that statement is true or not is irrelevant at this point. The problem is that it isn't a wise statement. Now, I agree with Pat that people need to turn toward God in times of disaster or in general, and Pat should've left it at that. But this other stuff sounds like he's blaming the Haitians for the disaster. In fact, I have an uncle and aunt who do missionary work in Haiti. What about the Haitian Christians? What did they do? And what about Europe? Don't they need a great turning toward God too?

I am not saying God cannot cause a disaster. But neither are disasters always caused by God — especially without a clear prophesy to that effect. It is the state of a fallen world. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. Disaster falls on the just and the unjust. But like Jesus said, don't be fooled into thinking these people are worse sinners because something like this happened to them. For something worse will happen to everyone who doesn't repent.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Five Thoughts On My Troubles

I am experiencing some challenging times. I am about to lose my job, because the financial health of the educational institution I work for is not good. So, this institution has decided that firing everyone in my whole unit was part of the solution. Now, I am thrust into searching for a job.

Should I question God on whether this is fair or not? Should I be unconcerned, because God promised to take care of me? Has God abandoned me? Is God right beside me? Is God angry with me and punishing me? Is God using these events to humble and shape me?

Here's what I believe.
  • Although God is sovereign, and he can prevent suffering, Jesus said that we will experience trouble in this world (John 16:33). In fact, Jesus, who can avoid suffering, suffered why he was here on earth. And I have chosen to follow him. Why should I stop during tough times?

  • Suffering and hard times are the natural results of a fallen existence (Romans 8:20-23). However, Jesus said that my hope is in the triumph of Christ. He overcame, therefore I will overcome — if I continue in my faith, established and firm (Colossians 1:22-23).

  • Following, Jesus promised his presence no matter what I go through (Matthew 28:20b). He is with me, and he will see me through my troubles and bring me into his kingdom at the appointed time.

  • Also, God expects me to sometimes feel anxious or fearful sometimes, because he gave me ways to deal with worry. He said that we should pray because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:6-7). And we should pray remembering what we are thankful for, and what we know is true, lovely, and worthy (Philippians 4:6-9).

  • Finally, the Scriptures reveal a joyful purpose in suffering. My character development, and my faith being proved genuine (James 1:2-8; 1 Peter 1:3-9; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-7).

What I don't know is whether God will relieve my anxious heart by ending the suffering, or providing me with truth or both. I don't know how long it will take to find a job, or if I will. I don't know what the future holds. But I know he loves me and promised to never forsake me.

If only more of my brother's and sister's in Christ could speak to me this way.