My heart is heavy this morning as I read about the devastation that occurred in the Bicol region of the Phillipines. A while back I shared a message at Full Cup entitled “Where is God in Worldwide Suffering?” I think many of the points can be applied to what has happened here in the Philippines over the past few months. I have added and modified the devotional in light of recent events.
Where is God in Worldwide Suffering? Where is God in Typhoon Durian?
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
Do any of these predictions seem to match what is happening in our world today? I think the answer is a definite “yes!” I think there are three things we should keep in mind as the bad news keeps coming.
First and foremost, God is in Control. How do we know this? Because what Jesus told us is coming true! Jesus made another prediction right before the ones mentioned here. He told his disciples that the temple which they so admired would be completely destroyed (Matt 24:1-2). It happened about forty years later in 70 AD. He then went on to make predictions about wars, earthquakes and famines.
What if Jesus said that the world would soon become a place of peace, love and unity? It may have eased the disciples’ minds, but it would not have been the truth. I know God is in control because His word is being fulfilled. This means that no war, natural disaster, or personal tragedy surprises Him. No matter who leads the nations or world organizations, God is ultimately in charge. Because of this, there is no need for believers to live in fear.
The second thing we should keep in mind is that Jesus is returning soon. Doesn’t it seem that there is an increasing intensity and frequency to these destructive events? Notice that Jesus compared these worldwide happenings to labor pains. Any mother will tell you that labor pains get more intense and frequent as child birth draws near. We should think of each war or disaster as another sign that Jesus is coming soon—one step closer to the return of our Lord.
I heard a story once about a conversation between Martin Luther and one of his students. “What would you do if you knew Jesus was returning tomorrow?” his student asked. Luther glanced over at his calendar and replied, “I would plant a pear tree.” “Why in the world would you do that?” the student asked. “Because that is what I’ve put on my calendar for tomorrow,” Luther replied. Martin Luther was saying that his life was so in line with God’s will that he would not need to change anything.
How would you respond to the question that was asked to Luther? If you would have to change something, it most likely means you are not completely living in God’s will. Now more than ever, it is time to live a life that Christ would find pleasing upon his return.
The third thing we should see in our world is a call to action. Crises are opportunities for ministry. It is not enough to sit back and confirm that the Bible is true and Jesus is returning. As the world goes through its “labor pains,” unprecedented opportunities are opening for us to reach out to others in Jesus’ name.
Here in the Philippines, there are great spiritual needs in the Bicol region. Now there are also great humanitarian needs. Let us pray that many will give their lives to Jesus as Christian ministries respond to this tragedy.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
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