We’re not afraid of the Day after Tomorrow. No, we are torn and tear-stained because it is the day after yesterday. Why did life have to rip apart… yesterday? The singular event engulfing thousands of minds today is what happened yesterday.
Today, hundreds of moms and dads, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and grandmas and grandpas are attempting to piece the puzzle of life together amid tear-stained eyes and aching hearts.
And the burgeoning question always rises to the surface: Where was God in Moore, Oklahoma when this massive 1-mile-wide tornado ripped through neighborhoods and flattened two elementary schools, leaving more than 51 men, women, and children dead, and countless others injured? The death and injury toll continues to rise with every new report.
Give Us An Answer.
Some fear-laced religious pundits have rabidly pronounced that such incidents are surely the judgment of God upon particular towns or specifically on America because we have turned our back on Him and have openly condoned abortion, homosexuality, the encroachment of Islam, the use of foreign oil, or any other hot-topic issue of the month.
Running in a similar vein-of-thinking, others have declared that tornado victims might have avoided tragedies such as these if they had prayed more and been wiser about the placement of their homes.
Others have tried to graciously explain the important theological framework for suffering, tragedy, and death, in the hopes that some might be comforted and perhaps drawn to Christ by receiving a well-reasoned argument for the problem of pain and evil in this world. Pastor Sam Storms from Oklahoma City, OK, offered the best piece I could find in his article “Tornadoes, Tsunamis, and the Mystery of Suffering and Sovereignty”
No. Show Us Jesus.
And yet we find this One… Jesus. He handles tragedy, suffering, and need in a way not ever before seen on earth.
Jesus, the God-man, did not heal every single person and right every wrong in the entire world when He walked the pathways of Judea. Yet he did heal every person that came to him with physical need – hundreds upon hundreds – even thousands upon thousands (see Matthew 9:35-36; 12:8-21; 14:14-21).
When people suffered, grieved, and cried out in pain…
Jesus was moved with sorrow and wept with love (John 11:33-35).
When thousands of people were hungry and needy…
Jesus looked upon the multitudes with compassion and fed them (Matthew 14:14-21).
When people showed up with bodies wracked with illness, disease, and injury…
Jesus touched them and healed them all. (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 3:1-12; Mark 8:22-26; 9:14-29).
When people were filled with fear and uncertainty…
Jesus was filled with compassion and shared His message of hope – the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 9:35-36).
Jesus raised the dead, touched and healed the lepers, the blind, and the outcast, and proclaimed Himself to be the New and Living Way. In all of this, Jesus came to glorify God the Father – to make Him known, to put Him on display (John 1:14-18).
If you want to know the full picture of what God is like, then look at Jesus Christ. The Old Testament picture of God was true and accurate, but dramatically incomplete. Enter Jesus:
“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; The only One, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known.” (John 1:16-18)
Jesus came to reveal the Father and make known to everyone what God was really all about: Law and Grace, Truth and Mercy, Judgment and Hope.
And He sent his followers out on the same mission of living, showing, and proclaiming the new and living way of God’s reign now and to declare that Jesus Christ will one day come to re-create perfect order out of the perfect storm.
Show the Hope
As Jesus-followers, we are called by Christ on the same mission: to show and proclaim the reign of God now through our lives and, in this way, share the hope of what is not yet but is to be when Jesus comes to re-make, renew, and restore His creation. A new Eden will be our home with Christ on the throne (see Revelation 21:1-5; 22-1-5).
Here in the middle tension of the somewhere between, our mission is NOT to pontificate about whether specific natural disasters are judgment for particular sins. The reality is every single person on earth is born under the judgment of God because of the mess of sin inbred into every human being (Romans 5:12-14). Adam’s sin made this world a fallen, imperfect, and pain-ridden place. Sin wrecks our lives, distorts our desires, and ruins our relationships – most importantly with the God who made us. Only by His common grace does the rain fall on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45) and only by His mercy has He offered us a rescue plan in His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:15-17).
Our lives and words and actions are not to display the judgment of God (because that is God’s job when Jesus Christ returns – see Act 17:30-31), but to share the grace and truth revealed in Jesus Christ and to show the world our hope. Because of God’s saving grace upon our lives through Christ, the apostle Paul frames this implication: “…weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15b)
Jesus did not fix every problem and ease every suffering. Yet He did give thousands of people foretastes of what was to come and He commissioned His Church to continue the same mission.
In the wake of the day after yesterday… Jesus-followers give people foretastes of God’s coming reign through sharing the message and mercy of Jesus Christ. And while we look on with sadness through the corridors of our comfortable-ness, Jesus is calling us to reach out with His hopefulness and offer His presence to those living in desperation. Jesus is sending us into the world to be Jesus to the world. Let’s show them His hope…
REACH the hurting by praying NOW and by getting involved HERE with Samaritan’s Purse International Relief.