Recent news events such as the disaster in Japan seem to make being a Christian more difficult, even awkward. How often has someone asked you, "Why does a loving God allow these horrible things to happen?"
When earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear meltdowns come about all at once, coupled with upheaval in Middle Eastern countries, it's overwhelming. To make it more challenging, those who ask the "Where's God in all this?" questions aren't satisfied with detailed theology and apologetics.
But in the chaos, there is joy. That's right… JOY… even in the world today, during these troubling times. Through it all, God sends us very special reminders to stay hopeful and to continue serving Him through serving others.
Only days into the miserable situation in Japan, a unique photo was spread around the globe. It showed a member of that country's national security forces cradling a sweet little 4-month old girl, all wrapped up in pink. She had been found and rescued from the rubble more than three days after all hell broke loose, surviving despite having no food or water, alive in freezing conditions.
It was one miracle out of many, and I couldn't help coming back to the photo again and again. It first popped up online when I was doing my radio show. After non-stop updates of destruction and pain, I had a feeling that God had dropped the image into our lives as a reminder: Life goes on.
An encouragement and an inspiration, right? Absolutely, but it's something that still mystifies non-believers. It can also cause some people of faith to experience bouts of doubt as they ask why so many others were lost. There are some occasional moments of happiness, but the main theme is death and devastation.
Still, the pictures and stories convey positives that transcend detailed sermons. The message is clear… God is still there. Even in a sin-filled world, in ways that defy human understanding, God is still in control.
As time passed in Japan, other stories of successful rescues became evident. Other amazing things were occurring, too. In the initial days after the upheaval, there were no reports of riots, looting and assorted mayhem. People worked together to help each other. Many risked their lives trying to head off nuclear meltdowns and fallout. Television video showed locals embracing U.S. sailors who were delivering some of the first relief supplies. Around the world, individuals, companies and groups began to serve by pouring in monetary support and supplies. And those who never gave God a second thought began to pray.
Yes, there is joy in the center of every disaster, and we need to strive to see it. It's a variation on the theme, "Stop and smell the roses"… even if the roses are gone. Look for God's caring hand.
Maybe we've been so beaten up by the news over the past few years that we have lost our sense of sensitivity. There's no shortage of reasons to worry, fear and fret, leading to short fuse attitudes and an increased coarseness in our culture. Our nerves are frayed. We're anxious and tired.
Just the way Satan wants us… oblivious to the Lord's works.
We are also subjected to media messages from individuals and organizations wanting to exploit our national mood for their own gain. One ubiquitous commercial campaign promotes the "End of America," encouraging people to view a "shocking video" prediction of dire events to come... unless, of course, viewers take steps some investment guy wants them to make.
Connect the dots and it's easy to realize what the real motivation is all about.
I am not saying there aren't plenty of areas of concern everywhere, but we should remember that every generation has its problems and disasters. Our response is what matters.
It's crucial to keep it all in perspective. When examining photos of Earth, taken from the space station, I am reminded how the hot spots around the world are not even that huge, geographically. Media tend to magnify events so it feels like the entire planet has been trashed by quakes and tsunamis. It's a big world and an enormous universe, and He who created it all knows what He is doing.
We must make the effort to see the joy in our world today, inspired by the image of the little baby in the debris of Japan. That will help us always remember the baby in a manager, God incarnate, who truly does—and will—bring healing and joy TO the world.
Larson is a veteran Southern California radio/television personality and media consultant. He can be heard daily in San Diego on KCBQ 1170AM from 6 to 9 a.m., and on KPRZ 1210AM from 2 to 4 p.m. E-mail: email@example.com.
Published, April 2011