Sei sulla pagina 1di 8

When Disasters Strikes

A Four-Part Bible Study


study

Where is Our God?

Gods Temporary Silence


Read
Job 2:11-12, Job 23:2-4,8, Job 19:26-27, Job 13:13-15, 20-22, Job 42:1-15

Reflect
The issue of pain and suffering is common among all people, especially when it involves the innocent. If God is all-powerful, why does He allow calamities, tragedies, and destruction? In our pain, can we question God and ask Him why, or is it rebellion against God to do so? It is when we go through deep grief and agony that we need God the most, and it is often exactly then that He seems to be distant from us. He is silent, and it looks like He lets us struggle alone. We come to the conclusion that there is no easy answer to the question of suffering; and we learn that the real issue is not to understand suffering, but to understand how to respond to it. To many people, pain and distress provide an excuse for disbelief of and rebellion against God. But they ought to provide us with an occasion for deeper trust in God and a deeper understanding of coming closer to Him.
PA G E 1 O F 8

These issues are well illustrated by the biblical story of Job, a very rich man who was blameless and upright: he feared God and shunned evil. But God allowed Satan to test Jobs faith. Suddenly, Job lost all his wealth and all his friends, all his children perished, and his wife ridiculed him. He suffered an incurable skin disease and disfigurement. His four friends came to console him. They insisted on the traditional doctrine: that suffering always is the judgment of God against ones sin, and a man reaps what he sows. Instead of comforting Job, this approach confused him because he knew he was innocent. He questioned and challenged God. He wanted to defend himself before a judge. But his judge was God, whom he was accusing. He had no other place to go. Finally, God answers Job, describing how great and mighty He is in His creation and providence. Though Job does not get an answer to his basic questions, he has a new vision of God and submits to Him. Words of man brought despair, but words of God brought strong faith and courage. The problem of suffering itself is not solved. Postponing reward for virtue and punishment for evil is often not a satisfactory answer for those who experience pain or grief. The issue of suffering becomes a subsidiary question to the fact of the greatness and mystery of God. Life is more than a simple, neat formula. Our lives are embedded in God and His mystery. Its ultimate meaning is found only in Him. It is often in the most intense suffering that we stand nearest to God.

JouRnal oR discuss
Why do you think suffering occurs? In contrast to Jobs friends, how do you counsel people in deep need? Why does God sometimes seem silent, even though He is near?

PRay
Our God, when it appears like You are silent, help us to affirm that You are near to us. When we experience the intensity of our suffering, give us grace to see Your greatness, care and personal presence with us. Amen.

PA G E 2 O F 8

study

Shared Pain and Shared Comfort


Read
2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Reflect
This passage talks about the shared pain and shared comfort of Jesus Christ, Paul, and the people of the Corinthian church. The cause of the sufferings of Paul and of the Christians was their faith in Christ. Christ, in His incarnate life on earth, obviously suffered like all of us and much more. But now how can He as God suffer? The biblical concept of God is that He is a person with feelings; He is not indifferent to human struggles. He is called Father of those who know Jesus Christ as their Lord. There is a strong relationship of solidarity between God the Father, Christ the Lord, and the followers of Christ. This relationship extends in some form to all people. For those who are intimately bound to Him, their sufferings become the sufferings of God. At the conversion of Saul, Christs voice said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting, referring to Sauls persecution of Christians. When we suffer, Christwho is with us and in ussuffers. Sufferings of Christ flow into our lives when there is that union between Him and us. Paul speaks of his sufferings in the Asia Minor area. The deadly peril he faced is not defined. It might have been some serious illness or mob violence. His distress was so heavy and intense that he was at the point of death: In our hearts we felt the sentence of death. Then his hope was in God, who raises the dead. His severe sufferings gave him a fresh understanding of God as God of mercies and God of all comforts. Does suffering have any benefit? This passage focuses on one of its great values. Peoples suffering gave them capacity to comfort others who suffer: so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. He is Father of compassion: both a compassionate father and the source of all compassion. He is God of all comfort. God has motherly tenderness. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you. Isaiah 66:13 (NIV) Comfort flows from God through Jesus Christ to His followers, so that they can comfort people who go through anguish. So suffering prepares Christs followers to be better servants of Him in serving those who suffer. They become channels of comfort and encouragement, flowing from God to those in distress. God reaches others through us, so when we suffer, what happens through us is more important than what happens to us.
PA G E 3 O F 8

JouRnal oR discuss
What benefits have you experienced from suffering? Share a time when you experienced a tragedy or disaster and how that experience affected your relationship with God. How can suffering and difficulty give you greater capacity to serve Christ?

PRay
Our Father, Source of all comfort, bring us closer to You in our relationship with You so that Your comfort may flow through us to Your people. Help us especially to help, encourage, and build up many children in distress. All our hope is in You. Amen.

study

God, Source of Our Strength


Read
Psalm 46:1-7, 9-11

Reflect
Times of trouble are occasions when we long for comfort and protection. Whether it is natural calamities or human-induced problems, we are troubled in our bodies, minds, and hearts when they strike. We may lose our loved ones, our health may be seriously affected, our properties may be damaged or lost, friends or family may suffer, and it may seem that there is no ray of hope at all and everything is coming to an end. Nobody is around to help and comfort us. But this is when we need somebody to stand with us, to hold our hands and reassure us that everything is going to be all right. Being Gods children does not guarantee us trouble-free lives. Several of the biblical heroes have gone through great affliction and torments (Hebrews 11:35-38). Jesus Himself once told His disciples, In this world you will have trouble (John 16:33). Agonies and ecstasies are intertwined in life.

PA G E 4 O F 8

However, in contrast with the insecurity of earthly refuges, God offers protection and strength in times of trouble. In verse 2, earth and mountains are traditional worldly symbols of stability that could not be easily shaken. One may develop a sense of confidence once our feet are on firm ground. However, at times, the earth under our feet may give way. The symbols of stability may slide into the sea. The writer of the Scripture text is referring to such an incident, when the earth split apart and swallowed up several people, including his parents and relatives (Numbers 16:31-34). He goes a step further and imagines, the mountains fall into the heart of the seaits waters will roar and foam, and the mountains quake with their surging. But the affirmation of Gods presence in a protective capacity is the basis of confidence in the words of the community: We shall not fear Israel as a nation experienced threats to its existence from powerful kingdoms. Nations are in uproar is an indication of human power coming against her. But at the voice of God, the might of the enemy and the earth melt. God Himself is portrayed as the source of protection. The divine protection is the true stability in a world where powerful nations and the natural powers are fundamentally unstable. In His holy city, there is peace and protection because of His presence, which is the basis of encouragement. The phrase ever-present help is very significant. It means help, comfort, and strength are provided at the very moment when they are needed. Only God Almighty can do this. In His omnipotence, God created nature and human beings. He is in control of both. Because God controls nature, the chaotic threats it may pose to human existence may be faced fearlessly. The created nature cannot override the Creator. Even the threats posed by kingdoms at war may be defeated by the Almighty. The promise of His powerful presence will provide us security and confidence. The imagery of fortress is even reassuring. God is a citadel that cannot not be broken into.

JouRnal oR discuss
What are the different descriptions about God in this passage? Recall a few of your own experiences of the nearness of God, His protection, and consolation amidst difficult situations. Describe different ways God can be a source of our strength and the strength of affected communities.

PRay
Lord, we do not understand the way You work. We do not know why natural disasters happen and innocent people suffer. But we believe that You are ultimately in control and we are safe in Your arms. We pray that Your presence may continue to be with us and help us to face difficult situations in our lives. Help us to encourage others who are going through sufferings. You are our ever-present help! Amen.

PA G E 5 O F 8

study

Hope that is Unseen


Read
Revelation 5:1-14

Reflect
The Book of Revelation was written for those who suffered severely under Roman persecution. At the beginning, the author introduces himself as your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours (Revelation 1:9). Suffering, kingdom, and patient endurance are the pivotal themes on which John develops his message to the readers. Suffering calls for endurance, and the reason for endurance is the vision of the reign of God. That was Johns experience, which he wants to share with his readers, so that they too may find comfort and strength. Our biblical text begins with the vision of a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals, held in the hands of God. This imagery refers to the deep secrets of God, which are incomprehensible to human beings. In the face of immense suffering and calamities, we seriously raise the question as to why they should happen. The question becomes critical for anyone who believes in a loving God. The passage tells us that the answer comes in the shape of a mystery held by God. Next, John hears a cry in heaven: Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll? (Revelation 5:2). He weeps because no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. One of the elders tries to comfort him by saying that the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the all-powerful Messiah, is worthy. But his real comfort came when he realized that the one who holds the key to the mystery is none other than the slain Lamb of God. The Lamb of God is Christ, the innocent sacrifice. He is also the living King who is on the throne. Here is a divine paradox that leads into the meaning of mystery. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Revelation 1:18) Death brings an end to life on earth, but it succumbs to the power of life as revealed in Christ. In Him, life triumphed over death, and anyone who captures the vision of the reigning Lamb can live in hope as he puts his trust in the eternal God.

PA G E 6 O F 8

JouRnal oR discuss
Talk about your understanding of an age to come in God establishing His kingdom. How does it help you in the midst of suffering and death? How can you find comfort in God in the midst of acute personal suffering? How does it help you to comfort others? Is there an element of mystery surrounding our life that can lead to a sense of wonder and joy in the presence of God? Explain or offer an example. How does your faith help you to live with the unknown?

PRay
Lord, we do not know what history holds for us, but we know that You hold our history in Your hands. Teach us to live with the unknown and enable us to put our complete trust in You. Give us eternal hope. When we are thrown into the depths of sorrow, help us to see You in the heights. Amen.

The Scripture in this resource is from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. This resource is adapted from a resource written by Saphir Athyal, for World Vision International. Copyright 2011 World Vision, Inc., Mail Stop 321, P.O. Box 9716, Federal Way, WA 98063-9716, wvresources@worldvision.org. All rights reserved.
PA G E 7 O F 8

About World Vision


W o R l d V is io n is a Christian humanitarian organization

dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ, World Vision serves alongside the poor and oppressed as a demonstration of Gods unconditional love for all people. We envision a world in which each child experiences fullness of life as described in John 10:10, and we know this can be achieved only by addressing the problems of poverty and injustice in a holistic way. Thats how World Vision is unique. We bring more than 60 years of experience in three key areas needed to help children and families thrive: emergency relief, long-term development, and advocacy. And we bring all of our skills across many areas of expertise to each community we work in, enabling us to care for childrens physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Partnering with World Vision provides tangible ways to honor God and put faith into action. By working together, we can make a lasting difference in the lives of children and families who are struggling to overcome poverty. To learn more about how you can help, visit www.worldvision.org.

About World Vision Resources


e nding gl o ba l Po V eRt y and injustice begins with education: understanding the magnitude and causes of poverty, its impact on human dignity, and our connection to those in need around the world.

World Vision Resources is the publishing ministry of World Vision, which educates Christians about global poverty, inspires them to respond, and equips them with innovative resources to make a difference in the world.

For more information, contact: World Vision Resources Mail Stop 321 P.O. Box 9716 Federal Way, WA 98063-9716 Fax: 253.815.3340 wvresources@worldvision.org www.worldvisionresources.com
PA G E 8 O F 8