During the week after a major disaster such as Hurricane Matthew, it can be very difficult to remember and believe that God our Father does indeed care.
Death tolls are still rising, and long-term recovery efforts have only barely begun. The only word that I can use that accurately describes the effects of a disaster like this is "devastation." And for an impoverished country like Haiti, devastation is almost an understatement. Where does the God of love fit into all of this?
That's the question I found myself asking as I prayed for my friends and the IDES' partners who are serving in Haiti. What are God's purposes when it comes to devastation? How could a loving God let something so terrible happen? These could honestly be the very questions that rupture the faith of many who struggle to believe in God.
One night last week, I discussed the questions with close friends who meet in our home once a week to read the Word together. One of these friends, after carefully listening to my frustrations and doubts, shared a story that not only convicted me but also encouraged me with the reminder that God still cares.
My friend has a non-biological "sister" from Haiti who lived with her and her family during the sister's time as a college student in the U.S. Her sister's father was President of the Lutheran Church in the community of Les Cayes, where around 150 house churches have been planted as a result of his ministry. The sister's father was martyred for his faith several years ago, but the central church along with its orphanage and school are still thriving.
When the wind and the rain started as the storm surge flooded Les Cayes last week, the hardest hit city in Haiti, over 2,000 people crowded into her father's church to take refuge. During the next few hours, the other pastors and teachers who were there began preaching the Gospel to all of those who were gathered in order to give them hope and keep them calm. In the midst of the storm, the roof was torn off the church building, but not a single person was harmed. All 2,000 people left the building alive, and with a seed of the hope of Jesus planted firmly inside them thanks to the kindness and courage exhibited by the pastors and teachers.
My friend's sister is now working as a Physician's Assistant in Minnesota. She and her husband send nearly all of their income back to Haiti in order to support those who are carrying out her father's ministry--and now more than ever, her generosity will bless the devastated community with the love of Jesus Christ as rebuilding begins.
What are God's purposes when it comes to devastation? I needed to hear my friend's story before I could begin to formulate an answer. Her story showed me that there is so much more happening than just a storm. God is so much bigger than the box I put Him in with my questions. Even in the midst of a disaster, He is working through His people to spread the Good News of Christ. God is still sovereign. He is still good and loving.
Scripture says in 1 Peter 5:6-7, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you." So, do my questions disqualify me from His care? Absolutely not! But, I must also stay humble before Him, for His ways are above my ways and His thoughts are above my thoughts. He certainly can use a disaster to work miracles for the Kingdom.
But the verse doesn't end there. It also says that we can cast ALL of our anxieties (worries, frustrations, doubts, questions) upon Him because He cares for us.
Don't miss this. The God and Creator of the Universe cares for us. He still cares for all of those who have been hurt by Hurricane Matthew. He still cares for all the disaster response workers and nonprofit organizations traveling to Haiti right now. He still cares for all of the people like me questioning the "why" behind the disaster. He cares. He loves. He's in control, and He knows what he is doing--even if I don't personally understand it all.
If you have felt discouraged by last week's events, I pray that this devotional blog has encouraged you. I pray that God's Word may be a comfort to you. I pray that you will reject the complacency that so often accompanies questioning and doubts, and be moved to help those affected by the hurricane however you are able. I pray that as recovery begins, the global Body of Christ may come together to engage in the healing process.
We are the hands and feet of Christ. Let's show the world what His Love really looks like in the face of devastation.
If you would like to partner with IDES is serving those who have been affected by Hurricane Matthew, please designate your financial gift as "Disaster Response" at the bottom of the form at the following link:
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director @ IDES