Finding God in Disaster
Luke 23:42,43 “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Calamity has a way of readjusting one’s perspective. In times of success we have the debilitating luxury of being distracted by the temporal and unimportant. When disaster strikes though, we are often forced to focus on that which truly matters. Most of us can admit that it has only been in our times of desperate need that we have desperately sought God. When we are comfortable, we just do not see our need for him. In our pain, we promise that we will follow God forever but when the storm passes, we return to the pursuits of self.
In Luke, we are told the story of two men who found disaster. Condemned to die like Christ, these two were crucified next to him. One of them, in his pain and misery, lashed out at Christ, mocking him. Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us! (v 39)
His transgression was not that he mocked Christ. It was that He did not believe in him. If anyone was in desperate need, it was this man. He knew of his dire situation. He just could not see Christ as the answer to it. He thought Jesus to be a charlatan so in his hopelessness, he mocked him.
The other criminal however, also aware of his desperate circumstances, knew God when he saw him. In dreadful need, he could see that Jesus was his only hope. Thus, he did the only reasonable thing he could in such a situation. He humbly bowed before Christ and threw himself on his mercy. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom (v 42).
It is often not until my options are greatly reduced and destruction is imminent, that I turn to God. When the waters of life are smooth and the sun is shining, I captain the ship. Then, when the storm hits, even if I caused it, I beg God to take over. God, save me from myself! Then, when He does, the storm passes and I again resume control. If God ever just closes his eyes and shakes his head, it is at me.
God, thus, often uses pain and trials to turn us to him. James, the brother of Jesus, said that it is through the trials of life that God grows our faith in him (James 1:2-4). We often only see our need for God when we feel pain. The reality is, we need God constantly, but it is unfortunately often only in our discomfort that we become aware of that need.
The penitent criminal had no opportunity to turn from Christ as he was soon dead. The challenge for me though, is to remain continually aware of my need for God so that I do not continue to cause my own misery. It is in resuming control of my life and pursuing me that I repeatedly sow the seeds of my own destruction, thus returning to a cycle of sin, pain and repentance.
It is only in remaining aware of my need that I do not continue to return to my own misery. Today then, I will choose to see my need, abandon self and follow God.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.