We Shall Not Remain Unscathed
I’m beginning to realize that whatever I do in life, bad things await. Quite a morbid thought. But true. There is so great a presence of natural evil in this world that I will not remain untouched forever. Hurricanes hurt people. Bad men ram airplanes filled with hostages into office buildings. Tires shred at the wrong time and cars go flipping out of control into telephone poles and other vehicles. Cancer cells multiply and take over the body. Sooner or later, I will be touched by one of these disasters, whether in my own person, or by the injury or death of a friend/loved one. Natural evil exists, and it hurts people. Why? This is a very painful question to answer for someone who is suffering. I think one reason natural evil exists is because we as people do not see the dreadfulness of sin. We fail to see our need for a Savior, for help from outside the system. We are blind. But even a blind man could not ignore Hurricane Katrina. People are frightened by things outside of their control. No man can control tsunamis, no man can control tornadoes. No man could have stopped the terrorists on September Eleventh without knowing what the terrorists were going to do.
Hearts become fertile when touched by the acknowledgement of their own insecurity. How many millions of people over the years have been saved because of great trials afflicting others? Some people say natural evil is a form of punishment, that New Orleans was destroyed because of its great sin, like a modern day Sodom. This may be true–I don’t know the mind of God. But unlike Sodom, there were a lot of godly people who perished in their attics. God’s people suffer from natural evil just as the rest of the population. But it is in these moments that suffering Christians provide the greatest light to a hurting, darkened world. In times of greatest sorrow, come the greatest joys.
People in my church know about suffering. Reggie and his wife Sue had just moved to the area about six months ago. Reggie is now dead due to brain cancer. He died quickly, and now our church is grieving with Sue. Reggie is in heaven, the greatest joy any family member of any Christian will ever know. Yet death is sad. The greatest joys come with great heartache. Mark has been battling stomach cancer for six months. He will die soon. But unlike Reggie, he has suffered greatly from pain. He has lost 80 pounds during these months. He has a 30 year old mentally disabled son who was just admitted to a care facility in Texas where he lives as a rancher. Mark’s very elderly parents were just moved to the area so he could care for them. Now his family has the burden of caring for him as well. And his parents get to watch their son die.
I think of the Pharisees’ question to Jesus in John 9:1-3, “Who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he might be born blind?” Jesus responded, “Neither…but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” That man suffered as a cripple for thirty years before Jesus healed him. We are called lights in the darkness. But the world does not know it languishes in that darkness! People–believers and unbelievers–suffer so that God might show His goodness and his holiness to a blind world.