Friday, May 24, 2013

Our Refuge and Strength

I was getting ready to leave the house yesterday and had the radio on Glenn Beck’s show, and a guy called in, with a scripture. It caught my interest. I wasn’t able to write it down right then, so I tried to remember and look it up later. “Psalms 40-something” I repeated to myself. In my later search I came across Psalm 43:1
Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.
which seemed somewhat appropriate in this season of IntimOgate. But I didn’t think that was the one that struck me.
Eventually I found the right one, and verified it by re-listening to the radio program. At about 139 minutes [may require subscription to view/listen]  into the show is a call from Joshua in Arkansas (I adjusted his quotes of the actual scripture words to match my Bible; there were only a couple of minor discrepancies not affecting the meaning):
In prayer this morning, God kind of gave me a message for you and for the people of Moore, Oklahoma. Psalms 46 starts by saying, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” It talks in that chapter about nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall. He lifts his voice and the earth melts. The last verse of that scripture ends with, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
It’s verse 10 of this psalm that says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” I need to spend more time in Psalms. Good stuff.
There are philosophical questions that come up after disasters and extreme trials. There are some clearly unhelpful beliefs:
·         The people are being punished for not believing in global warming.
·         The people are being punished for not believing in (fill in the blank).
·         This is proof that believing in God and conservative values gives you no protection.
·         Those people ought to have prepared better or chosen to live somewhere else.
Bad things happen. Records show that the rate of tornadoes of all categories has been consistent over the decades records have been kept. Oklahoma is an area where tornadoes happen. I can understand, after Katrina, saying, “Let’s not rebuild below sea level; there’s no way to prevent flooding there.” But to refuse to build or farm or travel across the vast part of the US subject to tornadoes is unreasonable. And areas that aren’t subject to tornadoes probably have something else: earthquakes, flooding, drought, hurricanes, blizzards, or something else. You can’t live in a place free from natural dangers.
Bob Gorrell cartoon
I think our response is what is important. Do we turn to God and trust Him to get us through whatever trial we face? Do we seek to help the injured, rather than ignore them or blame them? Our love of God and His children is a measure of our civilization; the more civilized, the more peace and comfort we will experience, even during the inevitable difficult times.
My sister-in-law, in Oklahoma, linked someone’s Facebook note I thought was worth repeating. This is written by OK resident Jennifer Winton Edmundson. I don’t know her, or any more about her (even whether my SIL personally knows her), but I thought this was worth sharing:
Dear Non-Oklahomans or at least those that do not live in our Tornado Alley.... If you do not live here, please do not tell us how we should be building our schools, doing rescue, how to rebuild or question why we live here. Criticism, if warranted, is just only from those directly affected.... You have no idea what it is like to be in a tornado.... You have no idea how massive an EF5 is... You probably do not know that in that size of storm, you have to be underground and that under our ground is a level of rock that needs dynamite to get through in many places... The people in Moore had 16 minutes. 16 minutes. I take longer showers. And in that time I cannot fathom how many people were saved by our local meteorologists, by teachers, by people paying attention and knowing what to do. Heroes. I mourn with those that lost so much—everything. I can’t imagine the crushing sorrow they are enduring. I rejoice with those saved. Those 101 that came out overnight....And I marvel at the selflessness and generous spirits of those with whom I share this state. These people—that is why I live here. What can you do for Oklahoma? Pray. Pray hard. God did not do this to us, but you can bet He will be here as we walk through it.... You can send money and supplies to local charities. But please, refrain from "you should have's"... It compounds the loss... Sincerely, Now an Okie....
**This now concludes my kind of rant....

I heard today that people of Joplin, MO, who were on the receiving end of help not that long ago, are gathering supplies and gearing up to help the people of Moore, OK. Because of the kind of people we’re seeing in OK, I expect they will not only rebuild; they will be sharing with others sooner than we could expect. May God help them!

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