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Mar

16

2011

Disaster in Japan from a Holy and Good God

Martyn Lloyd-Jones said in his Preaching and Preachers something to the effect that a preacher should always respond to large-scale disasters / crises. I was considering preparing a sermon for this Sunday on the sovereign freedom of God and the urgent need to repent and believe in Jesus Christ, and pray for and evangelize the lost.

During this dark hour, indeed, many will be thinking about life and death more than normal. Yet, I think I do not have much to add to what has already been said. (cf. "Tsunami, Sovereignty, and Mercy" and "A Prayer for Japan", John Piper; etc.)

I think a better posture at this time might rather be silence, with hands firmly planted over our mouths. I am reminded of the words of Sarah Edwards. After her husband Jonathan Edwards died of smallpox (from the very vaccination he recently received), the first letter she wrote was to her daughter, she said:

My very dear child!

    What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be. 

    Your affection mother,
    Sarah Edwards

I cannot read these words without my eyes starting to well up. 

I am reminded of a recent interview I saw by Martin Bashir. He began asking Rob Bell whether God was powerful but uncaring, or caring but not powerful. Bell's answer (like the rest of the interview) was evasive and unclear. This false dilemma completely misunderstands what Sarah said in two words: "holy and good". The answer to Bashir's question: "both". 

His being powerful over such disasters does not negate his care. He cares. He wants to save from eternal condemnation, which is why God himself entered into humanity--Jesus Christ--to endure wrath and condemnation on the cross for our sin. The cross silences critics that call God "mean". Our problem is that we think we deserve life. We think nothing of the fact that every day we rebels of God breathe God's air, occupy God's land, use God's resources, while shaking our proverbial fist in the air, and we think this is our right. 

The Lord has done it.  "Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps" (Ps. 135:6). Let us pray for mercy, for temporary needs met, and for the gospel to make ground during this time of humbling, that many would be led to repentance (Luke 13:1-5). Let us give. Let us speak of a God who endured more suffering than any--and that, unlike us, undeservedly!--to save us from judgment to eternal life, glory, and joy.

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Matt Hauck (郝柏昇)

A once enemy now son, forgiven and freed by Jesus' blood, adopted and called by grace for glory.   (more...)

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