Katrina, the purifier...
Also with moisture He loads the thick cloud; He disperses the cloud of His lightning. It changes direction, turning around by His guidance, That it may do whatever He commands it On the face of the inhabited earth. Whether for correction, or for His world, Or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen. (Job 37:11-13).
American evangelicals deny the plain teaching of Scripture that God is active in our midst, disciplining His sons and sending those who hate Him a foretaste of their coming eternal torment. The denial is not in the form of a denunciation of these disciplinary and retributive acts in the past as they are recorded in Scripture and Church history, but rather a denunciation of anyone who has the faith to believe that such things are happening among us today and who blows the trumpet with a certain note of warning.
Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked, "O wicked man, you will surely die," and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life. (Ezekiel 33:7-9).
As we face New Orleans and 9/11 and AIDS, exactly why is it that we have the freedom to maintain a strict silence concerning God's agency and will in these great disasters when all previous believers used similar disasters to issue specific calls to repentance? Here is Martyn Lloyd-Jones speaking of World War I & World War II, calling them God's specific judgment against specific sin:
So we have had the self-same thing in the Church and in the world. False worship, false religion, false gods, and an appalling state of evil, sin and vice. And then what happens? Well, you remember what happened to the Israelites? God punished them, and He always punishes sin. I repeat again what I have often said, that I regard the two World Wars which we have experienced in this century as God's punishment of the apostasy of the last century. I see no other adequate explanation. God punished the Israelites in a terrible manner, Moses came down from the Mount and saw the appalling condition of the people and he sent out his great challenge. He stood in the gate of the camp and said, "Who is on the Lord's side? Let him come unto me" (Exodus 32:26).
-from Martyn Lloyd-Jones' book, Revival, p. 151.
Cultivated agnosticism concerning the purposes of God in human suffering is nothing new. It's always been a temptation for men called to speak for God to deny that God has anything specific to say other than "Peace! Peace!" But such unfaithfulness to our calling carries a terrible price: we will face God ourselves with blood on our hands...
Praise God for the Apostle Paul who was able to say to the Ephesian elders concerning his pastoral ministry among them:
Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God (Acts 20:26,27).
Prayer: Father God, You are a glorious God Whose purposes are everywhere being carried out by all the forces and creatures of Your creation. From you come the spring rains and autumn colors, the winter blizzards and summer heat. Without your decree nothing in all creation breathes or moves, but when you speak waves mount, mountains crumble, winds blow, and the floodwaters cover us.
So Father, we see the terrible suffering of millions in the regions surrounding New Orleans and we know you have spoken judgment and warning against us and our nation. And although our sins are beyond any human accounting, we do ask your forgiveness for our indifference to the sexual debauchery that is central to New Orleans' identity. We acknowledge we have grown complacent and have seen this same sin come to permeate our nation. We have even allowed it entry into our own cities, churches, and living rooms. As believers, we have ourselves taken part in these sins.
Have mercy on us, Holy Father, and grant us a true repentance that produces in us the purity and love that are the fruit of Your Holy Spirit. May You be pleased to use us to clean up our fiber optic trunk lines and public airways, our theatres and bars, our dormitories and bedrooms in our own nations, states, cities, homes, and churches.
Father, glorify Yourself through us giving us a love for holiness that causes us to hate sin and to seek first Your Kingdom and Your righteousness. You alone are worthy of our worship and we join together with all the angels and archangels singing, "Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty. Heaven and earth are full of your glory!"