Monday, April 12, 2010

Encouragement: Responding to Disasters

Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes- natural catastrophes of various kinds- have a way of making us feel helpless. We can do nothing to stop them. We can only do our best to avoid them and then pick up the pieces after they have passed. The first part of Joel's prophecy is concerned with natural disasters that would lead to great suffering for for God's people- a drought of major proportions and a plague of locusts. God used these natural events to warn His people of even worse suffering in the future, should they refuse to recognize their need for Him.

Disasters can also come as a result of our own behavior. Joel realized that the natural disasters suffered by the people of Judah were God's way of getting their attention. Centuries earlier, Moses had warned that disobedience to God's plan would lead to such catastrophes (Deuteronomy 28:38-39). God sought to restore His people to Himself. Through these natural disasters, God broke through their illusions of security and self-sufficiency, showing them how important their relationshipwith Him was.

Some of us have suffered from "locust plagues" in our own lives. Through actions of our own, we have suffered painful consequences and have found ourselves unable to combat the powers that assail us. As we recognize our own limitations and accept responsibility for our sins, we should realize that this is not the end of our lives. It is a wonderful opportunity for a new start! Recognizing our need for God's power in our lives leads us to seek God afresh and once again surrender to Him.When this is happening, we are continuing in the ongoing process of spiritual renewal.

The Power of Confrontation
God's people had lost sight of their need for God. and had become complacent about following the plan God had laid out for them. So to break their spiritual blindness, God allowed them to suffer a series of disasters. Through their sufferings and the words of the prophet Joel, God let His people know that they were headed for disaster and need to make some changes in their lives. God often intervenes in our lives in similar ways. He allows us to suffer the consequences of our behavior to awaken us from our spiritual blindness and complacency. He confronts us with the painful reality of our choices and actions. But we should find comfort in this because He confronts us, not to destroy us, but to initiate the process of our restoration.

God's Power within us
Joel predicted a time when the limitless power of God would be poured out upon us through His Holy Spirit. This promise implied that God would be directly available to His people and it was fulfilled when God's Spirit was poured out after Jesus, the Messiah, ascended to heaven. This truth is of utmost importance to us in the process of spiritual renewal. God is with us, and His power is available to us as we persevere in our struggle to grow.

" You are of God, little children, and you have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world". 1 John 4:4.

Be Encouraged

A.Othniel
(www.aothniel.net)

Letter # 14 (11. 4. 2010)