Thursday, October 27, 2005
But yet as bad as it was, Katrina could have been much, much worse. The New Orleans death toll, once predicted to rise into the tens of thousands, turned out to be less than a thousand, still a devastating toll to be sure, but much, much less than it could have been. Morever, the forecasted epidemic of Katrina-related disease has largely failed to come to pass, perhaps because the "toxic soup" that had been feared to be brewed from Katrina's floodwaters fell well short of the often dire predictions. Also, the economic fallout has been less than what had been expected. In my area, gas prices peaked at just over $3.00 per gallon, but have since moderated to $2.45, not much higher than they were before Katrina and Rita did their damage. All in all, it seems to be apparent that the direst predictions of devastation have failed to come to pass. Compared to what could have been, or even compared to what did actually come to pass with the recent earthquake in Pakistan and India, it seems as though God's mercy was abundantly evident insofar as the death and destruction wrought by the late hurricanes is concerned.
In fact, as I think back on the many disasters and near-disasters the US has suffered in my lifetime, I am struck by the thought that they could have been so much worse! I am not the only person to have noticed this. I have heard of others who have said that this fact is proof of God's special favor towards the US. To an extent I agree, so long as we rightly define the basis of God's favor. Has America been spared so much calamity because it is somehow morally superior to other nations? Does God compare the US to other nations and say, "The US isn't perfect, but it's better than other nations, so I'll be kind to them." Quite the contrary! Instead, I would submit that the US is just as wicked and depraved as any nation. My country has shed an untold amount of innocent blood. As a nation and as a people, our hands are far, far from clean. Before God, our supposed righteousness is a heaping pile of smelly, filthy rags.
But yet, I remain persuaded that God has continued to be pleased to show mercy to the US, not because of our works, but solely because of His good pleasure. God is sovereign over all affairs of men, and as such holds the power to lift up and cast down nations as He sees fit. Although the US has done much wickedness, and may well be more guilty than most of the sins of self-righteousness and hypocrisy, yet God continues to show mercy to its people. God's reason for His mercy is hidden to us, but yet the fact of it is evident.
So what are we to do? Should we thank God that we are better than other men? God forbid, for we are in no way more righteous! Instead, we ought to respond to His mercy in humility and repentance. Scripture and history alike make it plain that God's patience is great indeed, but we know not when His patience will be exhausted. Mercy is an altogether undeserved gift, one that ought not be trifled with. It may be withdrawn at any time without any advance notice.
Therefore, I call upon my fellow US citizens to heed the mercy of God, and turn back to the Lord with repentance. We ought to call upon Him, pleading with Him to graciously send a true revival to our land: not a false "revival" marked by false signs and lying wonders, but a true revival marked by bold Gospel preaching and a national turning away from sin. We ought to take hope from the Lord's mercy, but we ought never presume upon His mercy, for we know not when He will remove it.
For my friends in other nations, you too may take hope even if God's mercy seems to be less evident in your land. If darkness is great in your nation, then I encourage you to call upon the Lord all the more to plead that He would show mercy to your nation. The Lord is patient and long-suffering, delighting in mercy, so He may well be pleased to revive your nation! Even if your nation has never known abundant Gospel light, who knows? Call upon Him in hope, and ask Him to call many people unto Christ in your land. So long as Christ's return tarries, there remains the hope that God will smile upon your nation and call many Elect unto Himself.