Prayers for Brothers and Sisters: Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines

Our thoughts, gifts, and prayers go out to our whole Bible brothers and sisters at whatever location Typhoon Haiyan affected them and in whatever way it touched them. Many are friends of this ministry, and we asked (and are asking) the Father for protection, restoration, and blessing through this frightening and trying time in their lives. Material help is on the way, and I pray it is distributed as needed and not gobbled up by the wicked.

Something I cling to in times of difficulty is that God is always working, even though bad things happen to us. It sounds trite but it is still true, that all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose. Appearances can be deceiving, and cause us to lose hope. So some of the words I speak are intended to bolster your hope in Him.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18, ESV)

I’ve been praying and asking God for the right words to say here because I want them to be from Him and not just from me. I am not there; I can only imagine the difficulties you are experiencing. In my prayer and search for words for you I kept coming back to Psalm 10. The affliction mentioned there comes from wicked people, but it still applies because many times so-called “natural” disasters are responses from God to wicked men.

Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted. Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”? But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none. The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (Psalm 10:12–18, ESV)

You have many idolaters around you; many people who are going their own ways unmindful of God and His ways. I cannot say for certain that the typhoon is a direct result, but it seems to me that it is still part of God’s warnings of His coming wrath. Sometimes we must suffer along with the wicked so that not only will we learn from it but that we may also help those who are being commanded to turn back to Him. Repentance is the main goal of events such as this, and hopefully many will see and exchange their wickedness for His righteousness.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3–5, ESV)

Words of encouragement in such a situation can be unintentionally hurtful. But in this format I bring your plight to mind for others. The voices of many lifted to our God, Father and Friend will help push back against any evil intent this disaster might have for you. I pray you have been and will be protected through the trials, and that His blessing will be upon you.

For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever! (Psalm 22:24–26, ESV)

Shalom

Encouragement

This is kind of an odd time in the history of man for communication. We can instantly speak with almost anyone anywhere in the world. In spite of knowing this we sometimes lose sight of the fact that when we post on our whole Bible blog and our Facebook page we have brothers and sisters in many other countries who have liked our pages and read what we write. When you live in the U.S. with all of the freedoms we have it is very easy to forget that things are not so great in other parts of the world. Especially for Christians.

 

We have battles here too, but they are pretty tame in comparison. We don’t have to worry about getting raped and shot on the way to the grocery store like Bernadette in Egypt does (unless we live in Chicago or Detroit). We don’t have to think much about what we’d do if somebody threatened to hang us unless we converted to Islam as one brother suffered recently. We don’t have to figure out if we can forgive the person who is cutting our throat or the throats of our children or grand children. Nobody here threatens us with economic or physical harm (well, maybe a little economic harm sometimes) for our faith like they do in many Muslim or communist countries. When we wear tassels on our pants we don’t have to think that they might make us a target for a pagan bullet. If we rest on Sabbath or observe the Passover here it only marks us as a little weird. The church might not be comfortable with it, but they aren’t plotting to burn down or blow up our houses. At least not yet.

 

But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. (Ecclesiastes 9:4, ESV)

 

So it seems a little lame for us to try and encourage those brothers and sisters who are suffering as we don’t have to at the moment. But it is not lame for God. Our Messiah Yeshua suffered as many of us have suffered since the beginning. He was (and is, and will be) victorious, and promises we will be too if we persevere. Everything is in His hands, and not even a sparrow falls to the ground without Him knowing about it. He sees, and He knows what is going on with His children. He will repay, and no unbeliever will escape His vengeance. I hope I can remember this and cling to it when it comes my turn.

 

Truly the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and shield. Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. (Psalm 33:18–22, NRSV)

 

We feel helpless to do anything to alleviate your terror and suffering, and “praying for you” just doesn’t seem adequate. But we do pray, and we do speak of you often to the Father. We give to certain organizations that help somewhat with some needs, and can perhaps get you to another country where it’s safer. (Consider Israel if you can’t make it to our country. As dumb as they are sometimes and even though they are at the center of the storm God will protect the apple of His eye.) Our God is bigger than all of this, and will supply all your needs. There is a plan, and a promise, and He will always be faithful and will never let us down.

 

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:21–24, ESV)
It’s going to get worse for us all before it gets better, but it will get better. We win. This is our hope.

 

Shalom