Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Beauty Instead of Ashes" - My article in The Southside Messenger

Spirit & Truth # 164
“Beauty Instead of Ashes”

By Rev. Greg Smith

Haiti lies in rubble and ashes. Good people ask why. Why would God allow something like this to happen? The answers are hard to find. One noteworthy televangelist has said that Haiti deserved it, that they made a pact with the devil. Is this the cause? The last time I read the Bible, I found out that we all made a pact with the Devil, the moment we committed our first sin. And we’re still here. In fact, rather than sending an earthquake to devour us, God sent His Son to save us. God loves us. And God weeps.

When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, Jesus wept (John 11:35). He wept, not for the lost soul of the faithful friend, but for the lost physical life. He wept for the pain that Lazarus’ sisters felt. If Jesus could weep over the lost life of one whose soul was already in the presence of Almighty God, how much more does God weep over the lost souls who did not know Him! Yes, God weeps when tragedy like this takes place. And we should weep too. Rather than gloating and saying they deserve it, our hearts should be broken on behalf of the people of Haiti.

In Matthew 5:45, Jesus says that God “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” In Luke 13:4-5, Jesus said, “Those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them--do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you no!” What Jesus is saying is that disasters happen. Of course, God can use disasters to judge people and nations, but when He does, He usually tells them about it, not some televangelist.

Isaiah 61:1-4 says, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of our God's vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the LORD, to glorify Him. They will rebuild the ancient ruins; they will restore the former devastations; they will renew the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”

Jesus read this passage in the synagogue of Nazareth, saying, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing (Luke 4:21)." The scripture continues to be fulfilled when every believer carries on Christ’s work. I pray that the Spirit anoints churches around the world to do all that Isaiah prophesied, so that the people of Haiti can have beauty instead of ashes.

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