Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Epidemics, and other Misfortunes

Misfortunes and even disasters are part of life. Are they natural phenomena, are they judgments from God, or are they both?  

Hurricane Sandy has just swept through the east coast of the US, killing at least 100, leaving six million without power and causing at least $3 billion dollars in damages. In March 2011, an earthquake (magnitude 9.3), tsunami and radiation accident in Japan killed 15,870 and caused $235 billion in damages. In January 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Leogane in Haiti, killing at least 316,000. Disease epidemics relentlessly cycle through populations. Such catastrophes occur constantly somewhere in the world, and terrible suffering and loss is an inevitable result.

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We the Rebels, the Traitors, the Despised and the Beloved

Jesus said that the world will hate those we follow Him. He said that Christians are in the world but not of the world. What does that mean?

Our class had an interesting discussion during Sunday School yesterday. We begin in a large assembly and share announcements and prayer requests. The department includes young and middle aged adults, and one prayer request was a delight; a recently married couple will be having their first child in the spring. Many of the other requests were sad; women with breast cancer, aging and dying parents, and trouble with marriages and children. No one is immune to the disappointments and tragedies of life.

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The Sovereignty of God, the Responsibility of Man, and the Suffering of Life

God is totally sovereign, responsible for everything that happens in the universe. Man has the freedom to do what he wants, and is responsible for his actions. These truths are incompatible. What are we to do? 

We have all had days that we will never forget; the day that you graduated, married your lifelong sweetheart, and heard the first cry of your child. We have all had days that we would rather forget; the day that your biopsy report shows cancer, the midnight call that announces that your loved one is dead, or the email that says your job has been terminated. Much as we might wish to have only the first, the second will come. Our usual response is to ask why.

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The Fundamental Problem of Human Existence

What are the greatest problems facing the world today? Suffering? Death? Injustice? No, the greatest problem is the wickedness in the heart of every one of us. As we each become more like God, our world improves and our eternity is secure.

Open the newspaper, turn on television news, tune in to talk shows on satellite radio, or read internet news or text feeds, and you will be overwhelmed by a flood of information, mostly negative, about what is going on in the world. It would be easy to despair at the chorus of doomsday prophets describing how the world will end in dozens of different ways.

Get out of bed, get ready for work, work as best you can at the job you have, spend the evening with family and friends, and go to sleep. Throughout the day you will experience a mix of pleasure and pain, a combination of successes and failures, and if you reflect on the day you will wonder why things turned out as they did.

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