the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
Since God is the Prime Mover in all events, are we to sit idly by when a catastrophe occurs? After all, When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it? (Amos 3:6). Who are we to fight against God, right? It is true calamity and well being alike flow from the hand of God but we do not have the privilege of neglecting our Christian duty because we think God is judging an individual or community of people. The Bible says, whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished (Proverbs 17:5) and provides examples of nations that where chastened because they adopted a haughty attitude toward their neighbors disciplined by God (Ezekiel 25:1-4). Now, benign neglect is not the same as taking relish in another's misfortune, but it is likewise contrary to God's will. Job, the man God wagered his own reputation on, was a father to the needy [and] took up the case of the stranger (Job 29:16) in imitation of the Lord, a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows (Psalms 68:5). Throughout the Bible we are told God has a special concern for the weak and vulnerable. Furthermore, we are told to be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children (Ephesians 5:1). Thus, when an individual, community or nation appears to be under the lash of the Creator, we must respond with compassionate service. We do this even as we affirm, the LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised (Job 1:21).
For instance, “Less than 48 hours after a cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami decimated Japan's northeastern coastline, Luke Cummings managed a feat that many relief workers initially struggled to accomplish: He rushed headlong into the devastation. The 25-year-old American—who grew up in a missionary family in Japan—drove a van from his home in Tokyo to the hard-hit Sendai region, where his parents live and work, to deliver food and supplies to reeling communities. Four days later, Cummings offered a chilling firsthand account of the overwhelming devastation in coastal towns: 'It's as if the atomic bomb went off'” (World Magazine, 04.09.11).
It is easy to remain indifferent when hardship hits someone else but that attitude is not appropriate for the follower of Christ. Instead we must look upon the situation as an opportunity to share the love of Christ. Again, we can look to the example of Believers in Japan: “One of the biggest sources of [humanitarian] help came from one of the nation's smallest minorities: Christians working through churches to deliver aid and hope to a nation confronting profound needs—both physical and spiritual” (World Magazine, 04.09.11). This is how we should react when we encounter calamity in the life of an individual or community.
While I encourage you to seek out opportunity to aid the people of Japan, I remind you to remember those who are in need near by as well. When calamity strikes a neighbor - sickness, job loss, a death in the family - do not be lax in offering a hand. When they wonder out-loud why bad things are happening to them, you can assure them God is in control. If they thank you for your help, be sure to give all the glory to God. In so doing you will communicate the comprehensive nature of the kingdom of God.