To Ignore or Not to Ignore the Next Hurricane
September 7, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Hurricanes have been on my mind lately. No surprise with the devastation of Harvey in Texas and Louisiana and with Irma bearing down on the Caribbean and Florida, not to mention Jose and Katia. Hurricane season comes every year and we have witnessed in recent history some horrific destruction by hurricanes. How do we, as believers in a sovereign and gracious God, respond to such devastating natural disasters?
- Groan. All of creation has been subjected to the futility of sin and its consequence, death (Rom. 8:20). A hurricane is not the direct consequence of a particular, personal sin, but all natural disasters are consequences of the Fall. We honor God and his holiness, while humbling ourselves about sin, by groaning over the deadly consequences of sin (Rom. 8:23). Indifference and callousness over such natural disasters reveals a heart that hasn’t accepted the corruption and pervasiveness of human sin.
- Pray. Paul commands the church at Ephesus to make “supplication for all the saints” (6:18). While we may never meet or know those affected by natural disasters, we are called to pray for the saints (those who profess faith in Christ). Pray for relief. Pray for steadfastness in trial. Pray for strengthening of faith. Pray for gospel witness. Pray for protection of life.
- Hope. The main point of Paul’s teaching on “natural disasters” (futility in creation) in Romans 8 is a call to hope. He says in verse 23 we “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.” God has subjected all of creation to futility, but he has also secured a redemption, not only for the followers of Christ, but also for all of creation. In the new heavens and the new earth “the sea was no more” (Rev. 21:1), symbolically meaning that there will be no more death, decay, destruction, disaster, devastation, etc. While we groan natural disasters today, we can eagerly await for something better yet to come.
- Give. Some of Paul’s letters in the New Testament were fundraising letters. While he addressed many local church issues in 1 & 2 Corinthians, both letters addressed the offerings received to provide relief for the saints suffering from the famine in Jerusalem. Romans is a fundraising letter for Paul’s outreach ministry to Spain. Such generous support between churches and believers was a natural outworking of the gospel. The gospel unites believers. The gospel sets a model of generosity. Therefore Paul calls the Corinthians to “excel in this act of grace also” (i.e. giving to the relief aid, 2 Cor. 8:7). He goes on to say, “your abundance at the present time should supply their need” (8:14).
Who do we give to? I know there are many reputable organizations seeking to bring relief to the hurricane victims. Let me commend one to you: our denominational Disaster Relief team. Mission to North America, a ministry arm of the PCA, has a disaster relief team to support and assist local churches in the affected areas. This is one tangible way that we can help churches and followers of Christ affected by these hurricanes. Check out their website even through this weekend as they provide updates on Irma relief efforts.
The bottom line is that, as Christians, we cannot do nothing when natural disaster strikes. God has given us insight into how the spiritual and physical realms are connected along with a hope of renewal. Such knowledge compels us to action.