Spiritual aftermath of tsunami: the problem of evil Send a link to a friend
By Chad Ragsdale
[FEB. 5, 2005] Like most people I was shocked by the devastation and the death caused by the tsunami that struck in Southeast Asia. The days immediately following the disaster felt eerily similar to the days following the Sept. 11attack. I was captivated by the news stories and the images. My heart broke as I saw parents without children, children without parents and millions facing homelessness and disease.
But this tsunami was not just a physical disaster. For the millions of lives touched by this tragedy, it was also a profound spiritual disaster. Indeed, any tragedy -- whether it is personal or on a large scale -- brings with it very important spiritual questions and dilemmas.
On Jan. 10, Newsweek printed an article, "Countless Souls Cry Out to God," discussing the spiritual impact of the disaster. It was basically a summary of how each one of the religions represented in that region of the world dealt with the problem of evil in this world. It talked of the poor Hindu fishermen who understand life as "controlled by the play of capricious deities." It mentioned the Buddhists of Thailand and Sri Lanka who, in the words of University of Michigan professor Donald Lopez, "will look to the idea of karma and ask what they did Ö that a tragedy like this happened."
Most of the fatalities from this tsunami are Muslim. Most Muslims would understand this tragedy as Godís doing -- a way to test their faith.
The article ends on a fairly cynical note: "The miracle, if there is one, may be that so many still believe." When it comes down to it, faith is a pretty resilient force in peopleís lives regardless of their religion. Most people will hold onto their beliefs, especially in times of trouble. Or at least they will say what they think they ought to be saying in these times of trouble. However, there are often deep spiritual scars that never heal.
There are many who either privately or publicly echo the thoughts of a poor Indian villager named M. Chelladurai. In the fishing villages of India they believe that the ocean is their mother goddess. Following the loss of his home and family, this man expressed perfectly the basic spiritual dilemma of evil in this world: "The mother has butchered her own children. Either there is no God, or God must be cruel to do this."
There are no easy answers when tragedies strike. It is naÔve or possibly arrogant to think that we can understand or explain completely why things like this happen in our world.
However, Newsweek may have stumbled across the beginning of an answer. The article says of the Christians in the devastated areas, "For them there is the example of Jesus on the cross -- the God who takes on human flesh and, with it, a criminalís cruel torturing and death." In understanding evil and suffering, the beginning point must always be the cross of Christ.
The fact is that we donít always know the "why" of evil. We donít know why an evil like Sept. 11 or this tsunami happens. What we are provided with, however, is the "how." Specifically, how has God provided for our rescue, salvation and protection over the evils of this present age? That answer begins at the cross of Christ.
Galatians 1:3-5 -- "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
Prairieland Christian Church activities Send a link to a friend
[FEB. 2, 2005] HARTSBURG -- Prairieland Christian Church news:
Save the date
Feb. 1-8 -- Missions trip to the Dominican Republic. Please be praying for the safety and the success of this trip. Those going are Eldon Lessen, Marti Lessen, Debby Watts, Chad Ragsdale, Larry Jones, Anthony Jones and Blanche Coers.
Friday, Feb. 4 -- Friday Night Fellowship is canceled. It will instead take place on Feb. 11.
Wednesday, Feb. 9 -- Prairie Ladies HOPE, 6:30 p.m. at the church. Marti, Blanche and Debby will have the lesson, and Peggy and Suzy are hosting.
Friday, Feb. 11 -- Friday Night Fellowship at 7.
Sunday, Feb. 13 -- Joint LTM at the church starting at 6:30.
Wednesday, Feb. 16 -- Prairie Men's Band of Brothers. Men's group starting at 7.
Friday, Feb. 18 -- Friday Night Fellowship at 7.
Sunday, Feb. 20 -- Annual "State of the Church" sermon. We will have a potluck following church. The congregational meeting scheduled for Sunday night is postponed.
Feb. 25-26 -- Scrapbooking fund-raiser (see details below).
On Feb. 27, Chad Ragsdale will be starting a new sermon series entitled "Cry Freedom." It is the longing of every human heart to be truly free and at peace with himself, the world and God. Unfortunately, freedom in this world is elusive at best. Fortunately, "it is for freedom that Christ has set us free" (Galatians 5:1). Christ has come to offer us sweet freedom. All too often, however, we are the ones who determine to put the shackles back on. For five weeks we will be exploring the different shackles that keep us from experiencing true freedom in Christ.
In conjunction with this new sermon series, Jon Hamilton will be offering a new small group for those interested in experiencing Christ's freedom in their lives. More details to follow.
This month I'd like you to think about your mission field. That's right; you live right in the middle of a mission field. Do you know what we mean when we talk about missions? It's very simple. Missions is simply going out and being a witness for Christ. It doesn't just happen overseas. We are all missionaries. We haven't been called to be Christians. We have been called to be witnesses for Christ (Acts 1:8). We are not reaching our full potential for Christ unless we are engaged in missions.
So how can you work you
own mission field? Let me give you a good place to start: word
and deed. By "words" I mean being prepared to tell your faith
story. It doesn't mean that you have to be a preacher or teacher or
even an evangelist. You just have to know your own story about your
relationship with Christ. We all have a story to tell. By "deeds" I
simply mean let your light shine before men (Matthew 5:16).
Sometimes the best way to be a witness is just to engage in good
activities: Kyle's Korner
Where: Prairieland Christian Church, 208 N. First St., Hartsburg.
When: Friday, Feb. 25, 5 p.m., to Saturday, Feb. 26, 7 a.m.
Come and spend the evening or night catching up on those scrapbooks and help raise money for the Dominican Republic missions trip. You can bring your sleeping bag and crash in the sanctuary if you can't stay up all night.
For $10 you get the use of one 6-foot or one round table. If you don't need that much room (and we all usually need more), you can share a table with a friend and each can pay $5. All of the fees go toward the missions trip.
To keep expenses down, you are asked to bring a snack to share and your own drinks. If you want pizza for supper, the group will be collecting money and placing an order. If you would like to bring your supper, that is fine also. An oven, microwave, coffee maker and refrigerator are available.
Hostesses: Danita Gabbrants, Close to My Heart; Lori Allen, Creative Memories; and Betty Jo Lessen, Creative Memories.
R.S.V.P. by Feb. 11 to (217) 376-3243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know of anyone else who would like to come, please let them know about this. We look forward to seeing all of you there.
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