“On March 11, 2011 a 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami devastated Japan. As of today, the death toll has reached 10,668, with over 16,574 missing. A partial nuclear meltdown has complicated a tragic situation, spreading radiation throughout the food and water supply. Authorities report they will begin the search for children orphaned from this disaster, hopefully reaching them before traffickers…”
Unable to stand the newscaster’s report any longer, I clicked off the television. How could God let this happen? In ignorant arrogance, I demanded God give an answer, “Why did you let the earthquake and tsunami happen in Japan? Why not prevent the spread of radiation? And why don’t you stop sex trafficking, end world hunger and prevent the abuse? If you are really powerful and loving, why don’t you stop all this ugliness in the world?”
After a heavy moment of silence, God answered. “I created a perfect world. It was humanity that sinned and marred my perfect creation (Genesis 2, Romans 5:12). I sent my son to bear your sins in his body on a cross (1 Peter 2:24). Even though my chosen people continually turned their backs on me and chased after other gods (Judges 2:17-19), I always saved a remnant for myself to carry my message of redemption to the world (Acts 15:15-17). I gave you Samuel, David, Isaiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Paul, and the Disciples. I rescued you from slavery to sin (Rom. 6:6). I gave you power through my Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).”
“The family in Japan, now homeless and destitute – I am with them.
The girl, beaten and imprisoned in her own home in the Middle East – I created her.
The two little boys abandoned by their parents at a train station in India – I hear their cries.
That teenager in China, suffering a horrific existence at the hands of traffickers – I made her.
That foster child, wandering the streets of Atlanta, willing to do anything for the next meal – I see him.”
“The real question is, do you? You, who I blessed with a warm house, 3 meals a day and more clothes than you will ever need. You, who I saved from an eternity in hell. Do you see them?”
“Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Poverty. Illiteracy. Abuse. Exploitation. Child Marriage. Homelessness. Slavery. Rape. I am not oblivious. I care… more than words can ever express. Those hurting people are my creation. I care… so much that I sent you.”
A single tear trickled down my face. A lump swelled in my throat. I had no reply.
And then God asked, “So, I ask you. Why aren’t you helping those in Japan? Why don’t you stop sex trafficking, end world hunger and prevent the abuse? Why aren’t you fighting against sin and its effects in the world? What are you doing so the hurting and helpless people live long enough to hear the Gospel?” “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17)
God looked at me and asked, “My child, why aren’t you doing something?”
Do something now
On March 11, 2011 a 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami devastated Japan. Everyone wants to help. In a show of solidarity, Japanese flags have popped up all over Facebook and Twitter. Every church, nonprofit and business is scrambling to set up a way for their constituents to financially support the relief work. Right now, all eyes are on Japan. But in six months, people will be bored of the tragic stories. And in a year everyone will have forgotten the horror of radiation poisoning and aftershocks. In two years, we will barely remember what happened in Japan.
Don’t believe we could ever be that callous?
Just last year, 15o,ooo people died in the capital of Haiti. It has been five years since 230,000 people were killed and 500,000 were left homeless by the earthquake and tsunami that hit Sumatra, Indonesia. In 2005, over 1,836 American’s lost their lives in Katrina’s hurricane and flood, with over 10,000 losing everything they owned. Yet how many of us are raising money and planning mission trips to work in New Orleans, Haiti or Indonesia? These people are still struggling to move on with their lives after such devastation. The urgency is gone, but the needs are still there.
Eventually, humans burn out. Eventually volunteers go home. Eventually the pictures no longer move us to tears. Eventually our compassion fades as our attention is diverted elsewhere. Eventually, human compassion is not enough. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27) That verse does not command a donation or a trip – it commands a lifestyle. As humans, we are quick to move on, but as Christians we are called to stay.
Do something ongoing
On March 11, 2011 a 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami devastated Japan. The cries of a hurting nation have reached our ears. The people of God are trying to answer that call, but many of them have no idea what to do or why it is vital that they do something.
1. We help those in need because we are the people of God. God names Himself as protector of the widows and fatherless – and as His people – His cause is our cause. Twice, King David praises the Lord as being the Father of the fatherless and protector of widows. In Deuteronomy, God Himself is named as the One who executes justice for the fatherless and the widow. God’s chosen people were commanded to leave behind some of their harvest, so that the widow and fatherless could work and eat (Deut. 24:19-21). God tells Israel that He is holy and that He executes justice for the widows and fatherless. His people are commanded to do the same (Deut. 10:18).
2. We help those in need to restore an accurate picture of God to the world. God reveals Himself to us as father. God chose to be understood primarily in masculine terms. God is not merely like a father to His creation; He really is our Father(2 Cor. 6:18, 1 John 3:1). In fact, all earthly fatherhood is derived from God’s fatherhood. When the widows and fatherless are hurt or neglected, God the Father’s image to the world is distorted. That is why God calls His people to care for the widows and fatherless – to restore an accurate picture of God the Father to the world. Part of being a witness to the world is showing people who God the Father really is. We do that by caring for the hurting, afflicted, widows, and orphans.
3. We help those in need to advance God’s kingdom. In times of overwhelming need and devastating loss, people are most open to the Gospel. In that time of great loss, they see first hand that their gods have failed them – and so they reach out to One who can save them. Nations that were closed to Christ and governments who persecute His followers throw open their doors in times of national crisis. So we are called to go to them, bringing both physical and eternal restoration. “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:13-15). The most compassionate thing we can do for anyone in need is to introduce them to Jesus. But often we must first feed, clothe and care for them before they are in a place to listen to the Gospel.
We are not commanded to merely give a donation or take a trip, Jesus has called us to a lifestyle of compassion. A lifestyle not based solely on human emotion, but on our call from God to restore an accurate picture of Himself to a lost and dying world. Give. Pray. Share. Go.
Do something for Him