When I woke up this morning and turned on the news, I could hardly believe my eyes. Thousands of people wandering the streets and highways of New Orleans. People still stranded on rooftops, waiting, and praying for a rescue. It is almost surreal, and almost unbelievable that this is happening a couple thousand miles away, and not in some foreign country. We are used to scenes of refugees in places like Africa, and the states of the former Soviet Union. But in the United States. It almost doesn’t seem right that I am able to get up, watch tv, eat breakfast, stop by Starbucks, and go to work, while others, just states away, are scrambling for life, while many lives have been shattered.
What is our response in times like these?
That is both an easy and hard question. I think our first response is to go to God in prayer, and to help intercede on behalf of our neighbors. Prayer for those who have lost their lives. Prayer for those who are suffering. Prayer for those who are helping. Prayer for those who don’t have faith, or belief in Jesus Christ. Prayer for those who know Christ, and who are undoubtedly struggling with this disaster.
This is also a time to provide financial and physical help to those who are suffering. It’s an opportunity, whether we do it in person, or through some other channels, to be a presence in the lives of those who are there. “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). This is an opportunity to be in the flesh, and to minister to others, as Christ ministered in the flesh among us. This may mean an actual trip to the disaster site, or it may mean your support of those who are going. It’s an opporunity to be ambassadors for Christ, as seen in our actions. It’s an opportunity to show the reconciling message of God, in Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-20).
There are many things we can be doing, but I think we should continually be in prayer, and live in the realization that others are suffering instead of isolating ourselves in our own little worlds.
What we shouldn’t do?
Undoubtedly, like in any disaster, you get those who are screaming in hysterics that this is the end of the world, or that this is God’s judgment upon the earth. I already here people saying this was God’s judgment upon the city of New Orleans for its Godlessness, mardi gras, etc. And the sites that talk about these things are too numerous to even list. But we don’t need pastors, theologians and other Christians writing articles, such as the ones that appeared last year during the tsunami, claiming it was God’s judgment, and God’s attempt to get those in the tsunami area to come to repentance. All along, while people are suffering, these Christians sit in their ivory towers and pulpits debating over God’s judgment, mercy, repentance, and whether or not Satan or God was the cause of the tsunami. May we actually be the ones that God has mercy upon.
I am reminded of the LORD’s words in Job 42:7: “After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: ‘My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.'”
I fear sometimes that as Christians, we speak words to others about God, with words that are not right. We, who are on earth, try to determine and judge the thoughts of the One who is in Heaven.
A disaster will bring out the worst and the best in humanity. It brings out both looters, and also those who are wanting to provide help, and relieve suffering.
And disasters also bring out the worst and the best in Christians. Those who want to only condemn and blame and judge, while sitting back with an attitude of almost, “I told you so.” It’s almost as if some Christians delight in other’s suffering. And then there are those who love, show mercy, grace, faithfulness, and who are quick to enter into other’s suffering.
The world is watching us. And may they see people, and Christians who love each other, who love those who believe different than us. May they see us helping out our neighbors in need. Maybe this is a time for us to practice the the apologetic of hospitality, or the apologetic of suffering with others.
For how you can help, go to Instapundit for a great list of the agencies and groups that you can send money and other supplies to.