God is present in the rescuers, helpers

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. … Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are” (Romans 12:12-16).

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).

The age-old question is, “Why do bad things happen?” This question has stumped Judeo/Christian theologians and other religious thinkers since the dawn of humanity. And so, to quote my Old Testament professor, John Hayes, the answer is, “We don’t know.”

We don’t know why God allows these things to happen. But one thing I do know is that WHEN these things happen, we can see God’s grace in many ways throughout the whole ordeal.

It starts with the prayers of the world watching devastation unfold on their TVs, and it continues in the compassion that neighbors have for one another (and all humans are “neighbors”).

We see God’s grace in the faces of the rescue workers and aid agencies that show up to help their fellow human beings. God’s love is present as we see strangers comfort and help one another in the midst of their shared tragedy. And we see it in the money that pours in from all over the world to help the victims.

These disasters are great equalizers; they affect every person in their path — wealthy, poor, black/brown/pink, educated or non-educated, Christian/Jewish/Muslim/Hindu/etc. And in that equality, barriers are broken and bonds are made.

These moments of natural disaster overwhelm the hearts of the world; devastate the victims who lose loved ones, belongings, and more; and cause many to doubt the benevolence of God.

But I encourage you not to doubt the Creator, but to look for him in the small moments of love, kindness, generosity, faith, goodness, patience and, yes, even joy. These fruits of the Spirit are evidence of God’s presence with you, not just in Spirit, but in the lives of other human beings sent to walk with you through the storm.

— Rev. Laura Hutchinson, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

‘And lo, I am with you always’

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “disaster” as a sudden and terrible event in nature (such as a hurricane, tornado or flood) that usually results in serious damage and many deaths.

There are several disasters recorded in the Bible, beginning with the flood in Genesis 7. In Genesis 2, God said everything he spoke into existence was “very good.” In Genesis 6, He is so displeased with the wickedness of man that he causes a flood to destroy everything and everybody except Noah — who is righteous and has favour with God — his wife, their sons, their wives and the creatures God told him to save. The Bible says nothing about the righteousness or favour of God with the wife, their sons or their wives, yet they are spared.

For those whose lives are spared during a disaster, most would say that God was in the midst of the disaster with them.

We make the mistake of trying to speak for God, saying He is punishing people for their wickedness. If so, who would be here?

God is where He always promised us he would be. “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). We have to stand on his promise that he will never leave us nor forsake us, even in a natural disaster.

— Alberta McCrory, Gaines Chapel AME Church, Anniston