Monday, March 14, 2011

Beyond Relief and Recovery

"Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, you who have done great things. Who is like you, God? Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once more." -- Psalm 71:19-21

As reports of continuing devastation in Japan circulate around the globe, many of us are riveted to our televisions and interceding in behalf of the survivors of the earthquake and tsunami.  The imminent threat of nuclear disaster only adds insult to injury for a people so overwhelmed that they cannot imagine anything worse than what they have already suffered.  Yet we know that death from disease, starvation, and exposure to the elements often follows a disaster of this magnitude.  We are helpless to do anything more than pray and give our financial resources to help fund relief and recovery efforts.

How can we find the hope and faith to pray the nation of Japan through seemingly insurmountable circumstances?  How can we give enough to make a difference in the lives of those affected by a disaster of such apocalyptic proportions?  We start by remembering that our God is greater than any natural catastrophe and we pray beyond relief and recovery for the restoration of Japan.  Only God can restore a seemingly irreparable society, broken lives, and shattered souls.  He has been in the restoration business for as long as history has been recorded.  Our prayer must be that he will once again show himself as the restorer of a nation and that the people of Japan will call on the name of the only One who can truly save them.

While we are praying, we must also act by giving any way we can.  We cannot allow ourselves to think that our gifts -- whether monetary contributions or acts of service -- are too small to be of benefit when the problems faced by Japan are so overwhelming.  The collective gifts of thousands can make a difference.  Even individually, we can make a difference by praying on behalf of the Japanese people.

As you lay your head on your pillow tonight, let your prayers be for the people of Japan.  Ask God to show you what you can do, and to give you the faith to persevere in prayer for those who lack the spirit or will to pray for themselves.  God is good even in disaster, and he can bring good out of the most horrific circumstances we can imagine, if we will but believe, pray, and give.

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