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The song Phil just sang written by Chris Rice poses the dilemma that many of us face as followers of Jesus Christ. Did you catch the lyric: ďWell, if your God is so good, tell us why all the pain?Ē Itís the implied question that lay behind CNN anchor Wolf Blitzerís query to the Roman Catholic bishop of Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon, ďCan you help us make sense out of the things that have occurred today?Ē
Those of us who follow Jesus Christ are trying to make sense out of the devastation and disaster that began Tuesday and continued through the week and is not over yet. Where do we go for the answers?
If we merely look within ourselves, the natural response to these events for many of us is anger. We naturally want to retaliate; to get justice; to seek revenge and to avenge the thousands of innocent lives that were snuffed outósome in a moment in time, some over agonizing hours and maybe even days.
So searching within ourselves wonít help us deal with this disaster. We need to look outside of ourselves. We need to look to the only One who can make sense out of these events. We need to look to God. And to find Godís perspective on how to deal with disaster, we turn to his Word.
We could turn many places in Godís Word to find our response, but the passage God laid upon my heart on Tuesday as I sat in shock over the magnitude of this unprecedented deliberate attack on an unsuspecting people was the Old Testament book of Joel. The part of Scripture God led me to as I prayed asking for his perspective is this obscure book among the Minor Prophets. Itís probably a book that few of us have read before; even fewer have studied. Itís not a book that would normally appeal to us when life is going well, because it is a book that describes horrific circumstances and warns us of Godís anger at sin among his covenant people. But it is also a book that contains an incredibly encouraging word to Godís people who find themselves living in a time of disaster. And it shows us in very clear terms how we should respond biblically to disaster and tragedy.
Will you please turn in your Bibles this morning to Joel chapter 1, which youíll find on page # of the paperback bibles near you. Joel is in the Old Testament among the section called the Minor Prophets; his book is the second in the list of Minor Prophets right after the book Hosea and before the book of Amos.
This morning I want to read many of the verses in chapters one and two and make some brief comments about the relevance and application to us today. Our question is how to deal with disaster. And weíll discover that Joel gives us nine steps in dealing with the tragic circumstances we find ourselves facing today.
The relevance of Joel to our disaster
Parallels between two historic disasters
The prophet Joel begins his book by describing the historically unique disaster that his countrymen in the land of Judah some 2700 years ago had just experienced.
1:1-2ó The word of the LORD that came to Joel son of Pethuel. 2 Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your forefathers?
Some of you here have lived through some awful times in the last centuryó
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