Summary: Where is God in tragedy.
What are you doing here, Elijah?
Preaching involves at least two responsibilities beyond locking the doors and sweeping up. The first is to explain the Bible and relate it to life. The second is to take life and explain it in light of Scripture. My goal this morning is to attempt to accomplish both of these purposes.
Last Sunday there was an earthquake that has resulted is 120,000 or more lives to be removed from the earth in the matter of a few hours. The majority of them were washed away from their work, homes, and churches and drowned in the sea or killed by the mass of debris.
The news states that this is the worst natural disaster that has been recorded on this earth. (The media seems to have forgotten the flood in Noah’s time, but then again that was not really a natural disaster. )
The whole region contains far more dirt poor people that live in little scrap wood and metal shacks than well off families. A large portion of the income for families came from the tourist business all around the coastal area. Most of the beach front area was a vacation paradise and reserved for foreign tourist. Now the main industry is gone, many of the shacks destroyed. So much has been removed and death and debris left behind.
Where is God in all of this?
Isn’t that what we all tend to ask as we experience any of the problems in our lives? It seems like it is, especially true when something big happens. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados all cause us to question where is God?
I think we even tend to ask the question when people cause the event like 9/11.
However, with any natural disaster we dump the whole problem in God’s lap because there seems to be no one to blame except God.
The first scripture comes from a time when Elijah had been on the run. In the section before our reading today Elijah speaks to God. He asks God to kill him. He talks about how good a prophet he has tried to be. How all they others are dead and how they want to kill him also. He tells God how everything has gone wrong and his tone is very hopeless.
He is in a cave when he is told to go outside because God is about to pass by.
Then there is a damaging wind
A rumbling Earthquake
And a scorching Fire
None of them contain God.
Only in quiet that follows is God present – His Presence is described as gentle whisper…
Why is it that when ever something goes wrong in our lives we automatically think that God had something to do with it?
Human nature I guess. Maybe it is like when something is broken at home I automatically blame “the Kids.” Human nature needs to find a cause, something to blame. Perhaps we even have an internal need to see it as punishment.
How does the earthquake and Tsunami relate to the events of recent days?
I don’t see the natural disasters of 2004 as being any direct result of God acting to punish the people of the earth.
I do have thoughts of the end times. I think of the scripture in Matthew of wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines. But, I don’t know that it is in anyway related as signs of Christ immediate return. Only God knows the time.
In this scripture, the prophet Elijah feels beaten even though God had been totally present in his actions. He has fallen into depression based on the threats from Jezebel and all he sees is a dark future. He has no hope left in this world, everything he knows seems to be destroyed. His life is threatened and he has no place to go. He finds a shady spot to sit down and asks to die. An angel cares for him and directs him to a cave 40 days and nights away.
God speaks to him. "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
I believe that is God’s question for us this morning. What are you the church, the body of Christ, doing here?
As blessed people of God, what are WE, (not the church down the road) but US, this church doing for God.
We are among he most blessed in the world. Our nation is rich while many of us don’t feel that way ourselves I believe it is a case of just not knowing how lucky …..Blessed we really are.
Compared to most of the people that died in the disasters, we are well off.
This is not the first time I have asked this question. I believe that God is still waiting for our answer. Some of our members do touch a few people in the community and that is fantastic.