Places where free will makes us or breaks us
|By Teri Ditslear|
Joy in the Journey
Hurricane Harvey and now Irma, wildfires in Oregon, California, Idaho, and Montana are destroying everything in their paths. It would be easy to view these storms and fires as the wrath of God. It would be equally easy to lose faith that God really loves us, allowing these storms and fires ravage the lives and livelihood of so many people. Haven't the people of Haiti, and the Caribbean, the Gulf Coast and the West suffered enough? Why would a loving God allow the flood waters to take away so much that is good? Why would a loving God, let fires burn uncontrollably? We can only conjecture the answer, we can choose to believe that God is a wrathful God, who is punishing us, or we can choose to believe that God remains with us, and heartbroken for the lives that are suffering. While I do believe that some of our troubles are caused by our own sin, corporate sin and even occasionally an evil force some call Satan, the reasons why bad things happen may not be as important as how do we respond. This is another place where free will can make or break us.
Tragedy and loss has a way of bringing out the best of humanity. As hard as it is to watch from afar the devastation of 'Mother Nature', my heart grows warm watching the response from all corners of our country. Truckloads of supplies, battalions of people coming to the aid of strangers, stories of heroism are common place. Isn't it odd that we are taking time out, during this season to train our ears and minds, hearts and spirit towards those who are suffering. The politicizing and criticizing (of everything) has not stopped, but it has certainly gotten pushed into a low roar. Prayer vigils, collections of funds, donations of blood & supplies are highlighted in the news. God is in the midst of the storm.
The Bible verses that come to mind during times of trial are from James 1:2-5 and 2 Corinthians 4:8-10.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
I have two children that could not be more politically opposite. They just spent five days camping together in California. My latest joy was that when one of them complained or noted their differences, he added that his sister was the kindest and self-sacrificing person he knew. How different they are from one another, yet they love and respect and admire each other. Wouldn't the world be a better place if we tried this example of getting to know one another, seeing the difference and then loving deeply. This, I believe is what we are seeing during these disasters. Someone needs help, and care and then another person responds no matter the race, sexual orientation, political alliance, or any other difference. This is how we see God; this is how we meet God. May the storms subside and the love of Christ within us grow.
Noblesville's Teri Ditslear is a pastor whose column appears Saturdays in The Times. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook or at www.rolcommunity.com
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