From a Community Church in Katong - Pastor's Heart 10 May 2008
A Reminder of our Fragility
10 May 2008
The recent killer cyclone that battered the low-lying delta regions of Myanmar is just a reminder of how fragile a planet we live in. As the death toll keeps mounting upwards, from an initial 351 to an official 23,000, the nation is bracing itself for the worst. Aid workers and diplomats are predicting that the death toll could rise to 100,000 with one estimate putting the number at 150,000. And while aid trickles in because of the belligerence of the Myanmar Government towards foreign intervention, more and more people end up suffering and dying.
It was in December of 2004 when the giant Tsunami hit our region that saw over 250,000 people lose their lives. We had never seen anything like that happen before. At that time, many preachers were stumbling over one another trying to explain why something like this cannot be from God; that satan was the one who was behind it. All kinds of theories were espoused, but the reality is – there’s no way to explain this away as though it was some freak storm or an act of mother nature.
It was the Hand of God.
Amos chapter 3 gives us an interesting perspective on the issue. A series of rhetorical questions are asked by God from verses 4 to 6 and by the time we come to verse 6, the question is asked, “If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?” This is the crux of the matter. If a calamity strikes a city, it’s because the Lord has done it. And we must be careful not to dilute what the Word of God is trying to say or explain. There’s an interesting verse in Isaiah 26:10. It says that when grace is shown to the wicked, yet he’ll still not learn righteousness. But the preceding verse says, “For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.”
So what’s the issue in this matter? It’s to teach the nations righteousness. That is God’s goal. He wants us to learn and walk in righteousness. Now interestingly, some people will learn it by grace. When grace is shown to them, they do not take it for granted; so the grace given is not in vain. But to others, no matter how much grace is shown, they will still not learn righteousness. The only other alternative is judgment, because one way or another, God wants to teach us righteousness. That seems to be something that is very high on God’s agenda. And we, as Christians, must come to that place where we do not take the grace of God in vain. When He is gracious to us, may we learn righteousness. What happened in Myanmar can only be understood if we see through the eyes of God’s mercy and goodness, because He is not willing that any should perish. He speaks through the judgments.
So may we wake up from our slumber, because the end draweth nigh. The apostle Paul says that in evil, we are to be babes, but in understanding, mature. May God grant to all of us wisdom and understanding.