Thursday, January 14, 2010

God's priorities in the suffering in Haiti

Good morning friends. There are so many stories and so many pictures coming out of Haiti now, we are beginning to get a full picture of the unbelievable devastation there. As we go about our day the images keep playing out in our minds and it is hard to stop thinking about the people. As I eat, come home to a good house, crawl into a warm bed I think of the images of the children sitting in the dust on the side of the pathway. People begin to ask those predictable questions, "If there is a God, why would he allow this?" Our response is as predictable, "He created a perfect world, we messed it up and now we are living with the consequences". "He could have prevented it!!" they exclaim.  He shake our heads,"Yes, he could have prevented a lot of things, but then we wouldn't be human any more. He has given us the right to choose and to either live a victorious or a messed up life. If he prevented everything then our choices would also be taken away and we would become puppets. That is not what he wants and I am sure it is not what we want."

One of the things that is hard for us to understand and accept is that God is more concerned about our heart condition than he is about our physical comfort. We want a "sugar daddy" as a God; a genie who will grant our every wish. We need to keep in mind that Jesus' mission leading up to his death was two pronged; to cast out demons and preach the good news. He cast out demons to give people the freedom to respond to the good news. Jesus healed people because his heart could not stand to see their suffering. He responded out of compassion but it was not his mission.

Right now we are being moved by that same compassion that is in us because of God's love. The whole world is being moved by compassion as everyone mobilizes to bring help to a suffering nation. It comes from a sense of duty to one another. I pray that our compassion is different, deeper, and provoked by the heart of God. In the same way that God did not prevent the disease that Jesus healed, he did not prevent this disaster. Yet, Jesus was moved to heal as we should be moved to bring aid. The thing is, in all this suffering we need to remember that our priority is still the same as Jesus' was, to cast out demons and to preach the Good News. What is the sense of patching up the body if we are not going to take care of the more important thing that the body houses? If you are only interested in patching the "tent" then give to the Red Cross, but if you understand the true nature of our mission then give to the many Christian agencies that are going in with the message of hope as well. We need to equip the Church right now so she can carry on our mission.

Paul wrote to Timothy:

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. (1 Timothy 1:15)

This we know, but my question is, why did he save us? You begin to see some of Paul's motivation for going to the world with the message of hope when you read these words:

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. v. 16 

We were saved so that we could be used as an example of God's grace. The priority of the Kingdom is not on the comforts of this world but is all about the condition of our heart and the thousands of people we are an example to in our lifetime. So as we petition our Lord for those suffering in Haiti let's also cover the the many Christian workers already there and the many that are going in. Let us pray that God will keep their minds centered on his priorities; that as they bring physical comfort they will also understand that they are living examples of God's grace. Let us pray for the salvation of these people by praying strength and discernment into our brothers and sisters who are there representing us (the Church) and Jesus. Let us pray that they will not grow wearing in doing good and will have the understanding that by serving strong and well a harvest will be had at some point. Let us pray that out of these ashes a nation will rise, fiercely dependent on God for all things; a nation that will show the world what transformation will happen when we trust Jesus. Pray hard! Pray often!


Richard said...

There's so much truth here so well expressed. I often wonder if my nice house, car, tv, etc. might have originally been earmarked by God for Haiti or some other needy neighbors.

Pastor Paul said...

Richard, the only one who can answer that is the Spirit. Spend some time in seeking his direction in prayer. Make sure it is his direction and you will be encouraged regardless of what he is asking you to do.