Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tornadoes, Floods, and Suffering

It has been a rough month here in Arkansas, so you will hopefully forgive my infrequent posts. We are struggling through a period of very rough weather, with tornadoes and/or flooding having come within a few miles of almost every family member I have in the last couple of weeks. I have had one cousin whose house has been condemned due to tornadoes; the town where a sister-in-law lives was wiped off the map; and 60 families less than a mile from my house were evacuated and told to find new homes, due to flooding throughout their complex. God has mercifully spared my family through this time, but it has been very painful to see the suffering of this community. I ask you to keep us all in your prayers.

Right on time during this difficult period I got an email from an old friend, Gina A., who shared some of her thoughts and struggles on suffering. Point #1 below specifically spoke to me during this time, and I got her permission to share this email in the hopes that it might bless you as well. - Michael

About 5 or 6 months ago during time with God, I was reflecting on the brokenness of the world and God's sovereignty in the midst of it. That day I put my reflections on paper, and today as I was meditating was moved to go back and look at that list. I hope it is of blessing to you.

Reasons why God might allow the world to be like this

1) He wants humans to wake up everyday knowing (being unable to deny) that something is amiss. There need to be hints that all of creation is groaning as with childbirth pains for something that should be but isn't. (Rom 8:22) The fact that something's wrong must not be forgotten, lest we ever think we're off the hook or have exhausted/outlived a need for God.

"...We eagerly look forward to this freedom." (i.e. full rights as God's children and new bodies) "For if you already have something, you don't need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don't have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently." (Rom 8:24-25 NLT)

2) We need to see that there are mountains only He can move. The world will not be perfect until Jesus comes back again. Meanwhile, as we beg and plead for God to show mercy and move our many mountains, we can't help but be changed in our character and how we approach life, knowing that we can't do it all.

3) Seeing the world in this state gives us an opportunity to be conformed more and more to God's image. We experience just a pinch of what it's like for Him to see senseless things marring what could be a world of beauty and harmony. Imagine what God, seeing and knowing everything, sees when He looks at His world. And what is His reaction? To redeem it. To execute justice, upholding it as a critical piece of existence, while still giving humans the free gifts of unmerited grace, mercy and blessings.

Ironically, instead of seeing a messed up world as evidence of a God who is greater and evidence that there must be something more than this, people use this very thing to try to disprove His existence. Something tells me that even if God "fixed" everything, because of humankind's hard heart, it would still not see God for who He is and worship him accordingly. I guess that's kind of the point of the Adam & Eve story, right? That even when they had everything they would ever need, they still chose to I guess how much more would this be the operating principle AFTER sin has infected the human race.

Just some things on my heart and mind.

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