I heard a message last night that I want to write down here as best I can.
Why all the devastation from Hurricane Katrina? Did God allow this? Did He cause this? What is the purpose? Why did He not stop it? He could have stopped it couldn't He? Why?
Asaph the psalmist is in anguish and records his despair in Psalm 77
Psalm 77:1-6 (NKJV)
1I cried out to God with my voice--To God with my voice; And He gave ear to me. 2In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted. 3I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah
4You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. 5I have considered the days of old, The years of ancient times. 6I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, And my spirit makes diligent search.
Asaph could not sleep nor could he be comforted. He cried out to God and complained. He was overwhelmed. Think about Asaph's situation. Have you not been there? I have, and in the last three years it seems, quite often. Oh how those who have suffered this great disaster of Hurricane Katrina must be there too right now.
Asaph asked questions too. Listen to him in rapid fire fashion question God in despair.
Psalm 77:7-9 (NKJV)
Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? 8Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forevermore? 9Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah
Think about these questions for a moment. Where is God in all this? Why is God not helping? Is this a judgment from God? You'll hear these same questions on talk shows in the media for the next days and weeks to come. Ministers will be called upon to give an answer. They will say things like, God did not want this to happen, he just can't control everything you know. You'll hear the athiest say with mocking disdain that this proves there is no God. You'll hear the skeptic say that if God were so great why could he not have stopped this. And if he could have stopped it he must not really care. So who will have the answer? Not just an answer that makes us feel good or let's God off the hook, but the truth. That's what we need isn't it?
Then Asaph searches his mind for something to console him and then remembers what God has done in the past which is recorded in the scriptures.
Psalm 77:10-15 (NKJV)
And I said, "This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High." 11I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. 12I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds. 13Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God? 14You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples. 15You have with Your arm redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
Think about that for a moment. Think about how God as acted in mighty ways in times past. Think about His great creation. Talk about these wonders with your friends. Who else can we turn to but God. He has the power of life and death; He is the Creator God. He is a savior of people. How do we know these things? Because his chosen people the Israelites, through whom he revealed Himself to the world, have written down a history of God's dealings with them. These are first hand accounts.
The next part of Asaph's psalm speaks of waters and clouds and thunder and lighting, speaking strangely appropriately of something that sounds much like a hurricane.
Psalm 77:16-19 (NKJV)
The waters saw You, O God; The waters saw You, they were afraid; The depths also trembled. 17The clouds poured out water; The skies sent out a sound; Your arrows also flashed about. 18The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; The lightnings lit up the world; The earth trembled and shook. 19Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters, And Your footsteps were not known.
We can't see how God is in control but the Bible says that He is. Jesus made the winds and the waves stand still with three words: "Peace, be still." Could God have stopped this hurricane? Certainly. Could God have caused this hurricane? Certainly.
To the one who says there is no God:
Psalm 14:1 (NKJV)
The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good.
To the one who says God could not have done anything about this:
Job 36:26 (NKJV)
"Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; Nor can the number of His years be discovered.
To the one who says He must not really care:
Psalm 36:7-9 (NKJV)
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. 8They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. 9For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.
So where is all the lovingkindness of God now? I can't give an answer to what is a mystery but perhaps I should ask "Why did this not happen to me?" After pondering that question for a while, think about how gracious God is to us who were saved from this disaster.
Luke 13:4-5 (NKJV)
Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
Truly God does things that we can't possibly understand.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. 9"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
But we can trust God's word and what the truth is. God is great and God is good. Listen to Asaph's last verse Psalm 77
Psalm 77:20 (NKJV)
You led Your people like a flock By the hand of Moses and Aaron.
God is going to use my hands and the hands of many to lead the despairing back, to help them find hope, to help them rebuild, and survive.
God is like a great surgeon working on a patient who only feels the pain of the knife and the difficulty of recovery from major surgery. But it is that great surgeon who is healing and helping even though the cure hurts.