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When tragedy tests our faith
by Charles Johnson
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Hurricane Sandy stormed in as predicted, where it was predicted with great consequences. Even those who professionally analyze such storms were spell bound as they watched with amazement the ferociousness of the storm. Thousands fled for safety while others decided to weather it out.

Most Americans have seen or heard about other significant storms such as Katrina and Irene in recent years. Other cities that have been affected in recent years are Minot, North Dakota last year and Des Moines, Iowa in 1993. Our ancestors too knew dangers and destruction of floods like the Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of 1889. These floods did not affect nearly the numbers of people but each one felt the sorrow, grief and loss as individuals.

This past year tragedy has taken many forms across America. Massacre, senseless killings, fires, etc. have afflicted many families, some we know personally. Most of the victims we can identify with in some manner. As each of these families cope with loss in some form, how can they hope to have a meaningful future?

It was encouraging to see Rev. Franklin Graham on Fox News; October 30, interviewed on Greta’s show telling how Samaritan’s Purse was already sending equipment and volunteers to help with flood cleanup. His organization is sensitive to all tragedies around the world and gives the Christian community an opportunity to put their faith to work.

A few suggestions may help:
• Admit the reality of tragedy. At times individuals live in denial of the reality they experience. Some of this comes from anger which we feel awkward revealing to others. Other inner feelings would lead us to blame someone for the terrible acts experienced. At times we may want to lash out at God and blame him for it all.

The reality is; we do not live in a perfect world. Our world has fallen from its original perfect creation due to sin and rebellion. People do terrible things and many of us experience events and loss beyond our control. If we admit we do not live in a perfect world and events are not fair, we can move on to greater satisfaction.

• Know that the God of the Universe is in control. At times it is hard to accept and even harder to understand how and why these things happen. God is much greater than we are and his plans for the world expand far beyond our comprehension. Yet he created the world and each of us with a plan which he reveals to us day by day. Our walk with him must be a walk of faith which we cannot detour if our desire is to live according to his will.

• Recognize God’s presence each day. A Bible passage that reveals this is in Exodus 3:7-8, “The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them.’” Notice the words, “I have seen, I have heard, I am concerned and I have come down.” This is the assurance we have from God each day as we face our adversities. He knows our needs and he will provide the resources we need as we call out to him in prayer.

• God provides a community of support and gives his followers the opportunities to support those in need. Throughout Scripture God reminds us he is the God of the widow, the fatherless and the poor. He wants to care for everyone in need but he uses his people to do it. Those in need can seek out churches in their community and make their needs known so individual members can share their resources and talents with them. Church communities need to address community needs as they become known so God’s people can share his love with those in need. We are the eyes, ears, hands and feet of God to serve those experiencing tragedy.

• You have a future. Now is not a time to become trapped in thoughts of failure and defeat. This is a time to rebuild not only buildings but a life for the future. Renew relationships and build new ones for the future. Thank God for what you have and be grateful from what he spared you. Take daily steps to the future as you take into account what you can do today.

Our faith does not have to be devastated as we can cling to the “Rock that is higher than I.” Tragedies can increase our faith as we trust in the Lord to deliver us and walk with us through them. The Apostle Paul speaks from experience when he says in Romans 5:3-4, “…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Again in Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” ”…No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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