When disaster strikes, we often wonder why God allows such calamities. Hundreds of our churches were severely damaged, and thousands of our Baptist families faced significant hardship from recent hurricanes. Millions were without electricity and other basic services. Some areas like Galveston may never again be the same. Both righteous—if, indeed, any of us is righteous—and unrighteous were affected.
Stock Market Crash
Even more have been hurt by the stock market collapse. No one knows the final toll that will bring financial ruin, loss of jobs and an absence of confidence in the financial sector of our society. One friend said he will have to work an additional three years before he can retire. This isn’t as bad as his friend who already retired and joked he now will have to die three years earlier than he had planned.
While in Laredo, I learned of 62 colonias in that city where many never had electricity or running water or paved roads. When it rained, the children had to walk through mud for blocks to catch the school bus. Can you imagine the ridicule they must have faced for showing up for school covered with mud? We as Texas Baptists must lead the way to hear their concerns and encourage these conditions to be addressed.
Persecution in India
What about the suffering of others beyond Texas? A memo from the Baptist World Alliance reports the horrible persecution of Christians in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.
“Since the month of August, an outbreak of violence and intimidation against Christians by Hindu radicals has occurred, following the murder of a Hindu leader in that state, which is home to more than half a million Baptists,” the report stated.
“Even though a militant Maoist group claimed responsibility for the killing, supporters of the slain leader blame Christians for his death. Reports are that more than 90 Christians have been killed and many more injured by Hindu militants who have attacked predominantly Christian villages. Approximately 200 churches and more than 4,000 houses have been burned or otherwise destroyed, while some 65,000 Christians have hid in the forests and elsewhere to escape persecution.”
Where was God?
I’m not drawing a parallel between those whose retirement has been affected with the horrible massacre of Christians in Orissa; however, any disruption of our lives often is manifested with questions of faith. How can a loving God allow my child to be sick, or my job to be lost or our home to be destroyed? Where is God when these crises occur?
I wish I could give simple answers to these complex questions, but I can’t. I have heard, however, the testimonies of suffering Christ-followers speak with boldness about the presence of Christ in the dark nights of their sorrow. Many of the strongest believers are those who have suffered the most.
Let’s pledge our prayers and offer our support for these sufferers. Let us also give thanks for the promise that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Randel Everett is executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board.