Saturday, April 30, 2011

Disaster: An Essay to the Christian Community

Matthew 25:36-40 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

In light of the unprecedented tornadoes that swept through my home state of Alabama, I would be remiss in not commenting on the state of our present suffering. My home and our community were spared, but all around us are people without homes, without power, without water, without hope. Their homes and communities and schools are literally flattened to the ground. There is so much to do that it's sort of like standing in the middle of a war zone without a clear clue as to what to do first or how to start. These are our neighbors, our friends, our people. We must do something.

Here are a few harsh truths that Christians need to remember when helping those in overwhelming need:.

People who have just lost everything don't give one rip about your God. They need to mourn. They need to wail. They need to grieve. Then, they need practical things: food, clothing, water, shelter. Once those needs are met, a person will listen to everything else you have to say. But until that moment when hope is restored, you are confirming their deepest hidden suspicion that it is your God of Love who has visited this wrath directly on their home, their family. Keep your mouth shut until the Holy Spirit moves you to speak.

We need to work WITH other organizations not against them. God didn't come to Earth for a hostile take over. Don't do anything to damage God's reputation by showing your rear when you don't get your way. Be at peace with all men. Cooperate. Share your toys. Be patient and kind even if you don't feel like it.

Keep in mind when you are talking to people who have been hurt, that human beings are very attached to their physical belongings. Having them ripped away is like losing a limb--not something that can be easily replaced. And even if you get the very best, most expensive prosthetic, it's not the same as having YOUR arm back. Not the same at all. Never forget that you aren't replacing someone's belongings. You are allowing them the ability to start over, but nothing will ever change the loss. Be sensitive to this issue.

And finally, expect lost people you encounter in a community to behave like lost people. Do not hold them to your standards of behavior. Love them anyway. That's what God did for you before you were saved. It's the  very least you can do for others.

Love does indeed cover a multitude of sins. Thank God!

Psalm 119:50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.


Michelle said...

Such wise words my friend...such wise words. Jesus said "blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted." I'm hoping that counts for those of us who've been mourning for the mourners. That's me...the application of mascara has been an exercise in futility since Thursday.

Amanda said...

Well said. Thank you for those reminders.