Thursday, September 29, 2005

Responding to Human Disasters

Some friends of mine just moved to China. These are their reflections and mine follow:

If you have been keeping up with our posts you have probably heard about our
experience with the chicken. This was a sad experience for the Culp Family.
After watching Josie I keep coming back to a greater question.Josie loves
animals. She seems to be capable of deep emotional attachment with critters of
all types. Through this love Josie has become painfully aware of the cycle of
death and life that is so prominent in nature. Josie relates all of this to God.
She feels like God has given her a gift of love for his creatures. At the end of
the first day with our new chick Josie said: “God had a plan. He had a plan for
my dog to go live at a new home so that I could come to China and get this
chicken.” I thought “How sweet. A child’s faith is so precious.”

course the next day the chick was injured in a freak accident and it was clear
to us that Butter was not going to make it. I was so concerned for Josie. I
thought how is she going to reconcile this with her understanding of God and
life and what not? I was not sure how I was going to console her wounded spirit
and offer her encouragement. I caught myself thinking for a moment, how could
God let this happen?Then I thought about New Orleans. How could God let this
happen? Why did God let Katrina happen? I visited New Orleans once when I was

Well, Josie cried about Butter as I scooped up the limp chick’s
remains and got rid of the cage that Josie had made for her. Why did God let
this happen? I was a little shocked to find that after Josie’s cry she went
happily on to other adventures. She wrote about her experience and is now back
to being the rough and tumble lover of life that you all know her to be. Her
belief in God, justice, and life does not seem to be shattered. But what about
us? How do we respond to tragedies like Katrina? How are you responding to it? I
would love to hear your thoughts.
-Jeff Culp

As usual, you guys ask the important questions from daily events-- events that most people ignore or refuse to question.
As usual, I have my half-baked answer, which more relates to New Orleans than to Josie's chick, but perhaps I can talk to that as well.
Whenever we ask "why did God let this happen" we have to remember that while God is ultimately in charge, He has given that authority to others. In the case of the earth, God has given authority of it to humans (Genesis 1, Psalm 8). Unfortunately, most humans have done a terrible job of ruling the earth. In fact, humans, especially human governments, have handed the authority they have over to Satan by following Satan's ways and by giving in to sin. God said in Gen 2 that the day the human (Adam) rebelled against God, "on that day you would die". Of course, they didn't die on that day-- but they were handed over to the authority of Death. And Death is under the power of Satan (Heb 2:14). Thus, humanity, through their sin, handed the authority granted by God over to Satan.So what does this mean for us? That when a terrible, cataclysmic event occurs, it is judgment-- but it is judgment through the warped "justice" of Satan. This is what occured in the tsunami last year. All those people died, the innocent and the guilty together. And Satan can do this because humans have given him the authority to do this. Most of the time when we complain about God "allowing" something to happen, it is actually the sin of the human race granting authority to Satan that is "allowing" it to happen. Just because God gave us authority, we have to take the responsibility for abusing that authority.

There is one other case of judgment. It is judgment for sin that has been clearly stated by God's people. In other words, you can have a community that superficially follows God, but is in open rebellion against Him. They will talk good about God, but live lives that are rejecting him daily. When this occurs, God will send a prophet/messenger to the community and inform them of coming judgment. This is God's mercy. He doesn't have to do this, he could just send Satan to destroy them. But the fact is, we shouldn't give God "credit" for any disaster unless he has said that he would do it. Satan has the authority to act on his own. But sometimes he acts under God's command.

Interestingly enough, this is the case with New Orleans. The disaster happened, but it was years after a prophet that I know of had gone to New Orleans and predicted that the city would be destroyed unless they changed their ways. Their sin is shown especially in the Mardi Gras celebration-- which is a Satanic warping of the Lent celebration of the cross. This is one of the major things New Orleans is famous for, and it was a blight on the face of God. They were warned-- and I hope and pray that the surviors are now fasting and praying in repentance and for the restoration of their city.

This doesn't mean I don't have compassion for them. I do. Tremendously. I have been praying for them repeatedly. And I am planning on sending some Anawim folk to assist in the relief effort. But God will keep his promises. And at least far fewer died than could have. I just hope the people repent as a result of this.

So what about Josie's chick? Well, because Death is the authority humanity has given power to, then our lives will be filled with death, even if we are innocent, even if we are righteous. But Jesus says that this death we experience will ultimately give us life, if we trust in God through it. If we experience suffering and death and just question God, then perhaps we have a problem-- like Job. But if we experience suffering and death and acknowledge God's mercy and justice, trusting in him more and relying on Him more because we know that He cares for us, then we have true faith and we will gain more life than we know what to do with.

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