Over the past few days, North Korea has launched a missile over Japan, detonated a hydrogen bomb (which was five times more powerful than any bomb they had detonated prior), and has threatened America with an EMP strike. Rather than backing down in the face of international pressure, North Korean rhetoric and blatant taunting of the U.S. has escalated since my August 16 post.
Not only is the North Korean threat headline news, so is the worst fire in Los Angeles history along with many fires throughout the Pacific coastal states and Montana. As if this weren’t enough, our nation is also suffering the effects of the most damaging hurricane in U.S. history (Hurricane Harvey) while watching the most powerful hurricane ever to appear in the Atlantic (super-hurricane Irma) head toward the east coast. And this is not even to mention the social unrest, such as the current race riots not seen at this intensity in over 40 years. With all this concurrent trouble, we need to ask, what is God up to? Anything? Is He absent when we need Him most?
My emotional response to all of this is to hope that Kim Jong Un will give-up and that the anxiety produced from all of these “acts of God” and social upheaval will suddenly evaporate. In other words, will someone please wave a magic wand to give us a quick fix? Can we just get past this and return to a sense of stability and normalcy? But is a quick fix and a return to normalcy really in our best interest?
Consider the mid-1960’s and early 70’s. During this time racial conflicts, along with the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., were front page news, as were the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert. Whether racially motivated or incited by the Vietnam War, protests and riots were frequent headline news. We were a troubled nation, but this time was also accompanied by a powerful move of God. Hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of people from coast-to-coast turned to the Lord during what has come to be known as the Jesus Movement.
With this in view, I am reminded of what one Christian leader stated years ago, “Anything that draws us closer to God is a blessing.” Anything? Really? Even natural disasters? Even conflicts with other nations?
The Bible teaches that when a nation defies God’s ways and finds itself in a moral freefall, God may trouble that nation with “every kind of distress” to bring the people back to Himself (2 Chr. 15:1-7). This is not an act of vengeance, but an act of mercy. The prophet Isaiah even asked God to send judgment to the nations because he understood that it is through difficulties that “the inhabitants of the earth learn righteousness” (Isa. 26:9).
Many Christians today recoil at the very thought of national or international distress. They believe that a loving God would not trouble people. However, the Bible reveals that it is precisely because God is a loving and gracious God that He troubles the people. His goal is to shake people out of their ordinary routine and way of thinking and compel them to evaluate their actions and seek Him.
While my flesh cries out for a quick fix—I want our nation to get us out of all this distress now!—I see God’s wisdom in allowing deeply troubling events to take place. If they are not deeply troubling, we don’t seem to take interest in humbling ourselves to make the systemic changes that God can bless!
In closing, we must not waste the opportunity that the current national shakings are providing us. First, in view of what is taking place in our nation, are you completely surrendered to God’s purposes for your life? Second, are you engaging others in the conversation calling unsettled, at times fearful, souls to faith in Jesus?
Even if our nation chooses pride instead of humility, defiance toward God instead of love , there can be no more important mission than to call family, friends, neighbors and co-workers into an eternal relationship with the God who is reaching out to us even now—especially now.
For a detailed look at the premises of the last three blogs, with accompanying sources, click here to read Evaluating the North Korean Crisis by Timothy Zebell.