Thursday, September 01, 2005


Ten years ago

Although my job doesn't involve much travel, I am sent to technical conventions and training classes from time to time. Ten years ago, my travels sent me to a tech conference in a major port city. The conference took place in a vast convention center. The accomodations were comfortable and the food was very good. During my attendance, I stayed at a very nice hotel just a few blocks away, and had the opportunity to walk along one of the city's main streets which ran on top of the course of an old canal. The street was named Canal Street, and the conference venue was the New Orleans Convention Center.

A few days ago, as no doubt the entire world knows by now, things changed dramatically in that area. Canal Street has turned back into a canal, with its many shops being ransacked by looters. The Convention Center has turned into a place where thousands of people, without proper food, drink, or medical care, are waiting desparately for evacuation. New Orleans as I knew it ten years ago is no more.

In the media's coverage of this terrible disaster, it gets one thing very right: Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath is an Act of God. Although man no doubt contributed to the disaster by building a city in an incredibly risky location, it was God and God alone who unleashed the storm.

In this kind of situation, it's inevitable that people will start to ask, "Why? Why New Orleans and the Gulf Coast?" Only God knows the full reason for His mighty act of destruction, but one thing is safe to say: He didn't unleash this storm where He did because the people who live there are any worse than the people who live anywhere else. The Scriptures are clear: all men bear the sinful nature and do the sinful deeds of their father Adam. By nature, those of us who are enjoying peace, prosperity, and sunshine in, say, the Midwestern US are just as evil as those who lived in the area of the recent disaster. Given the nature of mankind's rebellion against His rule, God would be perfectly just to wipe every one of us out. Thus, the question ought not be, "Why was God so severe against the Gulf Coast?" but rather "Why is God so merciful to those whom He spared such calamity?"

As the people of the devastated region recover from this terrible disaster, I pray that it will lead our entire nation to repent of its wickedness and cry out to God for mercy through His Son, Jesus Christ. God is the author of both sunshine and hurricanes, and it is to Him that we owe our obedience and worship.

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