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Summary: A ’sermonette’ if you will, in response to Katrina

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When tragedy strikes, when chaos reins, when calamity turns lives upside down, people ask questions. In their anger and their grief some of the most common questions are about God, even from people who otherwise ignore or even claim to disbelieve in Him.

“Why does God let bad things happen?” “If God is loving and fair, why does He allow hateful and unfair things happen to good people?” In some cases they’re even blaming God for the tragedy.

Now as a Christian it is easy to become upset with people who ask these kinds of questions and call God’s character into doubt with their insinuations and their faithlessness.

But then we have to remind ourselves that they are asking in ignorance, and it is we, as believers in Christ, who are supposed to have some sort of answer for them. Not that we always have the answers ourselves, but the fact is, if they are asking they deserve some kind of response.

With that in mind we must be careful that we give them a proper and helpful response, and in order to be in position to do that we must think things through for ourselves first.

Now this isn’t going to be very long. I guess it will be more of a sermonette than a sermon. But in the wake of the events of the past week in our own southeast, and with the memories of the collapsed bridge in Baghdad and the tsunami in Indonesia being so fresh in all of our minds, I felt that I should address this issue to some degree at least.

I know there will be a lot of good sermons out there in these upcoming weeks about grief and tragedy and how to deal with horrible times and I know many of them will give comfort.

Here, I want to come in a slightly different door and hopefully give the reader some food for thought, and perhaps a word or two to share with enquiring minds.

When Adam sinned in the garden, and by saying Adam I mean both he and Eve, they died spiritually, they began to die physically, and if they rejected God’s promise of a Redeemer they died eternally. I personally believe there is ample evidence that they did believe in that promise, but that’s another sermon.

The point is, since all of mankind was in Adam’s loins when he sinned, therefore all of mankind inherited a sin nature (or a ‘fallen nature’) from Adam. (Romans 5:12-15)

That fallen nature in us is diametrically opposed to anything Godly, since it is the nature of the flesh and contrary to God.

This is not meant to be a sermon on basic Bible doctrine, but this point must be understood so that the reader will know what I mean when I say that our natural thinking is backwards in relation to God and everything about Him.

It is only when we are given spiritual life by the Holy Spirit and He begins to lead us into truth that we begin to think rightly at all about spiritual truth; it is only then that we begin to any degree to think like God.

Therefore, when people, sometimes even Christians, ask questions like the one in my title, the first thing we need to realize is that the question itself is backwards.

Instead of rambling all over the intellectual countryside trying to formulate an acceptable response to these questions, we could save ourselves a great deal of stress and discomfort and more than a little looking foolish, if we recognize that the whole ‘who’s to blame’ approach is backwards, as it comes from the fallen nature which is fundamentally ignorant of the truth of God.

I believe the only proper response to faithless questions, whether they be from someone else or floating around in our own mind, is to go to the Bible, see what the Bible says about God, and evaluate the circumstances in light of what the Bible says He is like, rather than evaluating God in light of the visible and temporal circumstances.

The next thing we must do then, is to determine what our own response and reaction is going to be to the circumstances in light of what we have learned about God.

So I want to take a brief look at two people in the Bible and their reactions to adversity, and the outcome of their reactions. Then I want us to go to just a couple of places that talk about the nature of God and what our response should be to that information, and then I’ll be done.

Here is Daniel 1:1-8

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god. 3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, 4 youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service. 6 Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego. 8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.

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