Hurricane Harvey (Part 2)

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand rand take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24 ESV). It seems like common sense to prepare ahead of time for a physical storm. I believe that it is equally important to prepare our minds and hearts for the inevitable storms of life. Without a theological foundation in place for how to face such storms, we are at greater risk for being blown over by the fierce winds of suffering when they arrive. We must develop an adequate, Biblically based theology of suffering. We must know what we believe about God, his sovereignty, and the hardships we experience in this world. This image has become a standard-bearer for the volunteers who poured into the area immediately after Hurricane Harvey flooded the Galveston/Houston area. I remember seeing it live as we watched the reports from live weather coverage on Sunday following the storm making its way on shore. It is a portrait of the mercy and courage of so many who risked themselves for others, many of them strangers. I am so grateful for that outpouring as it directly affecting the well-being of my family in the area; however, the rescue doesn’t negate our need for preparation. This is especially true in the spiritual realm. So, let’s begin with some basic principles that will prepare us for these inevitable trials and challenges. Today we begin with the first principle, a Scriptural understanding of the effect of sin and God’s provision. The Bible opens with God crafting a world of breathtaking beauty and unfathomable goodness (cf. Genesis 1). Paradise literally exudes order, harmony, wholeness, and life. But this garden scene is short-lived. Indeed, in contrast to other worldviews such as Hinduism and dualism, the Bible insists we are now dwelling in a Genesis 3 world. It is a world marked by sin, suffering, death, and decay. Concerning Jesus’ reflection on suffering in Luke 13, D. A. Carson observes: “What Jesus seems to presuppose is that all the sufferings of the world, whether caused by malice (cf. Luke 13:1-3) or by happenstance (cf. Luke 13:4-5), are not peculiar examples of judgment falling on the distinctively evil, but rather examples of the bare, stark fact that we are all under sentence of death.” However, we too have a rescuer. Just at the right time, God sent His only begotten son (cf. Romans 5:8) to save us from all of the destruction of that sin in the world. Our ultimate deliverer has already accomplished our rescue. Trust...

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