– By DR. DANIEL AUSBUN, First Baptist Church, Moreland
Tornadoes, flooding, fires – cancer, divorce, addiction – how should Christians respond when disaster hits our home?
Nearly every day we read about physical storms and the storms of life that pound homes and families. When someone we know falls on tough times, it's shallow to tell them, 'Let me know if you need anything.' Even worse, it's lying to tell someone on social media you're praying for them and you forget.
Christians should be prepared to minister to these two types of disasters. When disasters occur, most Americans take an increased interest along with an increased receptivity to God.
Disasters, particularly natural disasters, perplex all of us. While some call them 'acts of God,' others question why a good and loving God would do such a thing. The fact is, God does not give us all the answers.
As Christians, we believe that God gives us Himself – and that is why we have faith. Faith is believing God when we don't have all the answers. Natural and family disasters test our faith more than anything else.
If a tornado hits your neighbor's home, how should you respond? One word: Help.
Disaster relief has captured the hearts of Christians. Regardless of background, there seem to be no barriers to keep believers from serving people in need – all churches, all Christians should be doing this. Meeting a family's physical needs with practical help starts the healing process, which leads to a sense of hope that things will be better. Disasters open a type of hope that is only found in a relationship with Jesus.
Natural disasters aren't the only types that come. More common are the storms of life.
King David knew what it was like to experience the storms of life. He faced the storm of fear when Saul set himself to kill David out of rages of jealousy. He faced and failed the storm of temptation when he took another man's wife. He knew the storm of anxiety over the state of his kingdom. He walked in despair when Absalom, his son, attempted to overthrow David's own kingdom from him. He raged in the storm of anger when his son was killed by one of his own men. David knew what it was like to feel the stress of the storms of life.
Things happen in life, difficulties and gut-wrenching circumstances. We often say, 'Why is this happening? What is God allowing this?' Eventually, these troubles come to all of us.
Some storms come into our lives because a correction might need to occur. Because of rebellion, self-centeredness, unconfessed sin and disobedience to God's will – God uses storms for discipline.
However, not all storms of life come as the result of disobedience. Many times they occur even when a person is obeying God, when that person is running toward the presence of God rather than away from it.
As Christians, we want to remind people that God is always near, no matter what. There is not a single thing that we could ever go through that our heavenly Father does not understand, and there is not a single dark place that He has not already walked. Whatever the storm is in your life, He is here – just as powerful, just as real, just as present.
Helping others starts at home. Disaster relief and disaster response is the ministry of believers. Next time you hear of bad news, you should think, 'How will God use this to make His Name great?'