A synopsis of the story . . “When I was a child, a hurricane was approaching. We got down on our knees and prayed that it wouldn’t hit us. It was coming straight for us, but then it turned. It came ashore 50 miles away and destroyed a couple of other towns – killing lots of people. God saved us.”
Like me, you may want to ask: “But how about those in the other towns who lost their homes, were injured or perished?” In Scripture we see that natural phenomena – both good (like sun and refreshing rain) and bad (like earthquakes, tornados and drought) impact us all regardless of our faith. If you are looking for a religion that teaches prayer or mystic magic or positive thinking will spare you from suffering, you won’t find it in Christianity. There is no prayer or faith that will perpetually keep tragedy away from you in this life. The Bible teaches that tragedy and suffering are part of the human experience. But in the face of tragedy and more pedestrian troubles, Jesus offers us a gift.
Perhaps this is most concisely stated by Jesus in John 16:33.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The “heart” he invites us to live with is a “heart” like His. In times of significant tragedy or even more common struggles, Jesus offers His heart as a gift: His heart that loves, hopes, experiences compassion and acts compassionately.
We mourn the loss of everyone in Oklahoma who has suffered. As it happens, Sunday’s devastating tornado hit in an area in which many who worship in a Covenant church (our family of churches) were impacted. To date, we are aware that 71 homes belonging to Covenant Church members were destroyed. One member, a teacher at Briarwood Elementary School, suffered injuries when a wall fell on her, and another member, 49 year old Terri Long, was killed in a 7-Eleven along with a mother and child.
We are blessed to be a part of a very efficient relief ministry. When giving to relief work, whether in our country or around the world, you are probably like me: you want to make sure your donation goes to the people who need it most. Covenant World relief is a high-integrity organization which serves with minimal overhead. Covenant World Relief is collecting funds that will be distributed through the Midsouth Conference of the Covenant Church and through local congregations. I encourage you to donate online.