God, the Gospel and Gustav

Hurricane

As a resident of Florida, I found the Shepherd Press blog post today concerning hurricanes Gustav and others of particular interest (Gustav, Hanna, Ike and more).

The opening few sentences are right on target, “An AP headline today read ‘Gustav Spares Worst for New Orleans.’ This headline credits the thing created with the actions of the Creator. It may seem a small thing. It is not.”

To be quite certain, it is no small thing to attribute to “Mother Nature” what rightly belongs to our sovereign God (cf., Rom. 1:18-32). Psalm 115:3 says, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.”

I just want to add one thought (which I know Shepherd Press would agree and believes). How does one embrace with delight and full resolve the fact that God does whatever He pleases, even in the face of possible or impending destruction from a hurricane? And how do we help our children recognize and praise the Lord of heaven and earth who makes these storms occur so that he will be honored for who he is?

Without any semblance of trying to appear flippant, might I say, the Gospel!

“In the face of all life’s difficulties, we must keep the Cross of Christ central.”

In the face of adversity and tragic events, it is a mistake to build our understanding of God on hidden providence. We must not search for answers to our suffering in God’s hidden providence. God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts.

For, if we do, we will not only drive ourselves mad at trying to understand the perennial and elusive question, “Why?,” but we will also eventually come to distrust and hate God. We will become embittered like Job’s wife who said, “Curse God and die!”

In the face of all life’s difficulties, we must keep the Cross of Christ central. From a human perspective, the greatest crime and most tragic event that ever occurred was Christ’s crucifixion. Yet, we read in Acts 2:23, “this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death,” (emphasis mine).

“I still believe.”

When difficulties of life arise (and they will) and leave us with more unanswered than answered questions; when we find ourselves depressed, struggling, bewildered and broken with heartache and pain, our only consolation is the Gospel.

Just days after the heart-breaking loss of his 33-year-old son, Greg Laurie stepped into the pulpit of Harvest Christian Fellowship where he has faithfully served for the past 37 years and affirmed, “I still believe.”

Trying to fight back his tears, Pastor Greg went on to say, “Last Thursday was the most, I’ll be honest with you, the most devastating day of my life and I felt like time just stood still and I couldn’t imagine this happened…But I knew he was in Heaven.”

The Gospel is our only consolation in times of crisis and heart ache. The Gospel alone will safeguard our understanding of, love for and trust in God when at times His mysterious providence “appears” to contradict His loving character.

“The cross does not solve the problem of suffering, but it supplies the essential perspective from which to look at it.”

One of my favorite quotes concerning the cross and suffering comes from John Stott’s book, The Cross of Christ. Stott’s words served as a huge source of healing grace for me at a time in my life when all I sensed was heartache and bewilderment.

Stott writes,

    “We have to learn to climb the hill called Calvary, and from that vantage-ground survey all life’s tragedies. The cross does not solve the problem of suffering, but it supplies the essential perspective from which to look at it,” (p. 329).

In light of the “storms of life” whether they be hurricanes or the exceedingly painful death of a child, we must keep our eyes focused on the Gospel.

We must be, as the author of Hebrews exhorts, “2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

As Hurricane Hana approaches, we do not know how the Lord will determine its path. But what is important for us and our children to recognize is that whether Hana is another near-miss or if it brings massive destruction (for which we pray it does not), because of the Gospel we can say with confidence and integrity, “…we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,” (Rom. 8:28).

How you might reason? Because, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things,” (Rom. 8:32).

All the way my savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who thro’ life has been my guide?
Heav’nly peace divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.
(Frances Jane Crosby, 1820-1915)

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2 Responses to God, the Gospel and Gustav

  1. Jay Younts says:

    Great point with regard to the Gospel. My point was simply to address the reality that God is more than a bystander with regard to the “forces of nature.” However, what you say can never be said often enough. As Paul notes in Acts 17 God determines the places where all live, including Louisiana and Florida, for one reason – so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him. Thanks for the observation. Jay Younts, Shepherd Press Blog

  2. […] in the face of calamitous events like this, we must keep the Cross of Christ central, for it is our only consolation and […]

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