Whenever a great disaster strikes, legitimate questions spring to mind. Why does the Lord let such things happen? Couldn’t He have stopped this? Doesn’t He care? The magnitude of death and destruction caused by earthquakes, tornadoes, or floods disrupts our everyday thoughts and causes us to seek explanations for suffering.
Often the answers people come up with are based on their relationship with God. Those who know nothing of Him have no frame of reference for understanding how He works. Believers, on the other hand, have the Bible to guide them as they wrestle through these issues. But even then, the accuracy of one’s perspective is determined by his or her knowledge of God’s Word. Those with limited understanding may very well reach inaccurate conclusions.
We must guard against attempts at forcing the Lord to act the way we think He should. If He does something that won’t fit into the “box” we’ve devised for Him, we easily become upset, angry, or confused. God will never stay within the parameters we set for Him. Since we are mortal and sinful, we have a very narrow perspective and understanding of life. But our eternal, sinless, sovereign, and omniscient Creator sees and knows what we cannot perceive.
We want to be sure that our viewpoint of God’s role in natural disasters comes from the Bible, not from our own limited perspective. Scripture tells us of the Lord’s love, faithfulness, and wisdom. Whenever we cannot understand His ways, faith in His goodness must be our foundation.
Bible in One Year: Proverbs 9-12
Read: Genesis 4:1–12
Bible in a Year: Job 41–42; Acts 16:22–40
By faith Abel still speaks.—Hebrews 11:4
In June 2004, at a Vancouver art gallery, Canadian cross-country skier Beckie Scott received an Olympic gold medal. That’s interesting, because the Winter Olympics had been held in 2002—in Utah. Scott had won bronze behind two athletes who were disqualified months later when it was learned they had used banned substances.
It’s good that Scott eventually received her gold, but gone forever is the moment when she should have stood on the podium to hear her country’s national anthem. That injustice couldn’t be remedied.
Injustice of any kind disturbs us, and surely there are far greater wrongs than being denied a hard-won medal. The story of Cain and Abel shows an ultimate act of injustice (Gen. 4:8). And at first glance, it might look like Cain got away with murdering his brother. After all, he lived a long, full life, eventually building a city (v. 17).
But God Himself confronted Cain. “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground,” He said (v. 10). The New Testament later recorded Cain as an example to avoid (1 John 3:12; Jude 1:11). But of Abel we read, “By faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead” (Heb. 11:4).
God cares deeply about justice, about righting wrongs, and about defending the powerless. In the end, no one gets away with any act of injustice. Nor does God leave unrewarded our work done in faith for Him. —Tim Gustafson
Father, as Your Son taught us to pray, we ask that Your kingdom will come, Your will be done to change this broken world. Thank You for redeeming us.
Sin will not ultimately be judged by the way we see it, but by the way God sees it.
INSIGHT: For more about suffering and injustice, read 10 Reasons to Believe in a God Who Allows Suffering at discoveryseries.org/ten-reasons/in-a-god-who-allows-suffering.
Author John Stackhouse describes the discipline of “apologetics” as the Christian work of commending the faith as much as it is about defending the faith.(1) Commending the faith, he argues, is something the Christian community does wherever it is—with one another, with neighbors, with the world. Consequently, it is also something the Christian community does whether they are aware of it or not.
In his sermon before the Areopagus, the apostle Paul commended the gospel with reason and rhetoric that would not have gone unrecognized. This is the good news, he professed, and the good life depends on it. To the Athenian philosophers, he commended the gospel in terms that mattered deeply to them. “Since we are God’s offspring,” he said quoting an Athenian poet, “we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals.”(2) For on the contrary, he told them, the real and present Deity is now calling people everywhere to turn around and come near.
The apostle then followed this bold notion with a proof that would have caused as much, if not more, commotion in first century Athens as in hyper-rational modernity and cynical post-modernity. We know that God is the true creator, sustainer, and friend, he reasoned, because God “has given this proof… by raising [Christ] from the dead.”(3) Paul is telling the story of God in the world here, but he is also telling his own story. This Deity he commends to the Athenian philosophers is the risen Christ who appeared to him on Damascus road, who became friend instead of foe, and turned his own philosophy and consequently his life around.
Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name. —Hebrews 13:15
The Bible teaches that you must acknowledge and glorify God and offer up a sacrifice of praise regardless of what you may be going through. Perhaps you have been experiencing a time of trouble in your life, and you have been praying and trusting God to meet the need…but nothing has changed. While you are waiting for the answer is a perfect time to offer a sacrifice of praise.
It is easy to praise God when everything is going well, but when you acknowledge and glorify Him in the midst of a troubling situation, that is a sacrifice—and it does not go unnoticed. So offer a sacrifice of praise as you spend time with God at the end of your day.
From the book Ending Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer.
“No one who has become part of God’s family makes a practice of sinning, for Christ, God’s Son, holds him securely and the devil cannot get his hands on him” (1 John 5:18).
“I am enjoying my new-found liberty. I know that I am a Christian. I know that I am going to heaven, but for the moment I want to do my own thing. I recognize that the Lord may discipline me for the things that I am doing which the Bible says are wrong. I was reared in a very strict, legalistic Christian family and church and I have never enjoyed life before, but now I am having a ball. I don’t see anything wrong with drinking and sex and the other so-called sins that I have been told all my life were so terribly wrong.”
Do you believe that person is a Christian? Of course I have no way of judging, but according to the Word of God it is quite likely that this person has never really experienced a new birth. Can you imagine a beautiful butterfly going back to crawl in the dirt as it did as a caterpillar?
It is possible of course, for a Christian, one who has experienced new life in Christ, to sin, and even to continue in sin for a period of time, but never with a casual, flippant indifference to God’s way as this person expressed.
In the second chapter of the same epistle, the writer says the same thing in different words: “How can we be sure that we belong to Him? By looking within ourselves: are we really trying to do what He wants us to? Someone may say, ‘I am a Christian; I am on my way to heaven; I belong to Christ.’ But if he doesn’t do what Christ tells him to do, he is a liar. But those who do what Christ tells them to will learn to love God more and more. That is the way to know whether or not you are a Christian. Anyone who says he is a Christian should live as Christ did” (1 John 2:3-6).
Though it is not possible for us in this life to know the perfection that our Lord experienced, there will be that heartfelt desire to do what He wants us to do. Therefore, anyone who is a child of God will not make a practice of sinning. Those who are inclined should consider the possibility that they could be forever separated from God on judgement day.
Bible Reading: I John 5:1-21
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I am assured of my own salvation through faith in Christ which is demonstrated by the transformation of my attitudes and actions. I will encourage professing Christians, whose lives do not reflect God’s desires, to appropriate by faith the fullness of the Holy Spirit and His power in their daily walk so that they, too, can have the assurance of their salvation and their place in God’s special kingdom.
Colossians 3:13 says, “As Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” Really, God? Begin the process of healing. How? Well, keep no list of wrongs. Pray for your antagonists rather than plot against them. Hate the wrong without hating the wrongdoers. Turn your attention away from what they did to you to what Christ did for you. Outrageous as it may seem, Jesus died for them, too. If He thinks they are worth forgiving, they are.
Does that make forgiveness easy? No. Quick? Seldom. Painless? Forgiveness vacillates. It has fits and starts, good days and bad. Anger intermingled with love. Irregular mercy. We make progress only to make a wrong turn. Step forward and fall back. But it’s okay. As long as you’re trying to forgive, you are forgiving. It is when you no longer try that bitterness sets in. Keep trying. Keep forgiving.
From You’ll Get Through This
For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.
A Time magazine article in my Twitter feed caught my eye. It summarizes Cornell professor Brian Wansink’s six principles for eating less:
One: Don’t eat in view of food.
If you have cookies or chips sitting out at your house, you probably weigh eight pounds more than people who don’t. Those with breakfast cereal sitting in view typically weigh nineteen pounds more; those with soda sitting out weigh twenty-five pounds more than someone who doesn’t.
At a buffet, slim people are more likely to sit facing away from the food, while heavier people are three times more likely to sit looking at it. Watching other people eat causes us to think we need to eat more.
Two: Make food harder to reach. Keeping serving dishes off the table reduces how much men eat by 29 percent. Candy on your desk likely results in a double-digit weight gain.
Three: Plan ahead. Skinny people peruse the buffet before deciding what to eat; heavier people dive in and eat everything they don’t hate.
Four: Slow down. It takes twenty minutes for the “fullness signal” to tell us we’ve eaten enough, but the average American meal takes less than twenty minutes to complete.