Just Cry Out... "Jesus! Jesus!"

The spring of 2011 will probably go down in history as the most deadly spring season ever what with the tsunami in Japan, and here in the USA our deadly spring tornadoes.  A record number killed by natural disasters.  So who's name do you cry out when you find yourself in a surreal and terrifying nightmare?  What does God say (WDGS)?

I was watching the national news the other day and they had coverage on the massive tornado that ripped a 3/4 mile wide, six mile long strip through Joplin, Missouri.  With cell phone video cameras everywhere, they showed some very impressive amateur video footage of the storms, even close-up shots of the tornadoes as they ripped through neighborhoods.   It's pretty scary to see this force of nature and the destruction that it can do, but one phone video clip really stirred me.  The video clip was only a few seconds, and it was a shot of a handful of scared folks huddling in a convenience store just as the storm reached its fury and the killer tornado passed by.  In the first few seconds of the clip the store lights were on and everyone was rushing to the back of the store.  The photographer was filming from the back of the store looking out toward the glass doors trying to capture the events going on outside, but what was going on inside was the real event.  Suddenly the lights went out, and everyone cried and gasped in the dark room.  Among the cries and panic sounds we then heard two things.  First, someone said to another close to them, 'I love you'.  You can picture a couple huddling on the floor in each other's arms, turning to each other and expressing their love in what might be their last few minutes together here on earth.  Very understandable, and of course heart-warming.  Then secondly, a woman cried out in a high-pitched voice and with great anticipation...'Jesus!'....'Jesus!".   That was an expression of pure worship, a call for the One who loves you, the One that has all power in heaven and on earth- Jesus.

The first thing I thought of was, 'who else is there to call?'  That's true.  When Jesus asked his disciples who He was, Peter got it right- he said 'you are the Christ!'  (Mathew 16: 13-16).  The Father has given Jesus ALL authority in heaven and on earth, and Jesus said that he would be with us always.  (Mathew 28: 18-20)  Jesus' name is above all names as Isaiah proclaimed (Isaiah 9: 6), so why not go straight to the top when we are in need?

When we cry out because we are afraid of harm or injury or death, what do we expect?  Did Jesus ever say that we would not be hurt, or maimed, or suffer loss or suffer grief?  Did He ever say we would never die; even those of us that love and worship  Him?  No.  Scripture says that the 'rain' falls on the just and the unjust.  (Mathew 5: 45)  When we cry out for Jesus to protect us, to keep us safe from harm, to save our bodies, is this wrong to do?  Nope, it sure isn't.  I recall that Jesus is the One that controls the 'storms' of life.  Didn't He save the disciples that day on the sea when the storm came up?  (Mathew 8: 23-27)  On the other hand, isn't the condition of our souls and the souls of those folks around us that don't know Jesus more important than our physical well-being?  We know that Jesus cares about all of the three parts of us (body, mind, soul), but what do you think He cares more about?  Yep, ...our souls.  And more so, our souls spending eternity with Him in heaven.  What would it profit us if Jesus protected our bodies and homes, etc but didn't address the more important spiritual matter?  What kind of answer to a prayer would that be if Jesus protected us from harm when the very storm sent to 'heal' us all the way to heaven was calmed before God could use it to save his beloved?  Jesus made it pretty clear that to gain the world but to lose salvation was a horrible situation for us. (Mathew 16: 26)  But still, He says to bring Him everything, and I think it's just great to cry out for mercy in times of great need.  Why not?  If mercy is in His will for us in that moment, perhaps He will grant it to us.  No harm in asking, because if our prayer is against the will of the Father, it won't be answered the way we wish- it will be answered according to God's will and in God's time.

But more so, we can learn a lot from that woman crying out to God in that dark, scary room.  That woman in her desperation did two things.  First she put out a cry, a plea for mercy, which is always a great thing to do.  The Father knows our needs, and He loves to hear us pray.  And these 'foxhole' prayers are really GOOD prayers.  Pure, simple, child-like faith.  So, absolutely!  The second thing she did was to teach a great Bible study lesson and preach a great sermon, all at the same time.  When the Word of God is taught, people learn.  Folks within ear-shot learned who her God was at that moment of time- Jesus.  And when the Word of God is preached, people are saved.  I wonder how many people that day, perhaps in the convenience store accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior as she 'worshiped' the Prince of Life?  Remember, all those that believe in their hearts and profess with their lips that Jesus is Lord, are saved.  (Romans 10: 8-13)

Why does God allow (better said 'use') these disasters in the first place?  It's a long complicated answer, but the bottom line is that ...it is His will for us that all would be saved.  I don't recall anything in the Word about us living the life we wish for regarding good health, prosperity, success, no suffering; He never said that.  He uses all things to draw people to Him, even and perhaps more so, pain, suffering, and situations like these killer tornadoes to bring us to Him so He can 'grace us' with mercy and salvation.  (Note- I must confess- I wonder how much I would be praising Him if He took one of my loved ones from me in this killer storm- I am not saying I like this or it's easy to embrace, but I see His love and a bigger picture in situations like this, it's beyond our physical needs and wants.)  A good friend of mine always says "You can't threaten me with heaven!"  For the born again Christian this is true, and we should welcome the 'event' when He calls us home.  Want to know something about the death of a 'born again' Christian?  God says that it is 'precious' to Him, that's right...precious- He is waiting for us to get to heaven to fellowship with Him face to face!  (Psalms 116: 13)  How glorious is that!  But for the unsaved, their opportunities to receive the gift of eternal life are over when He calls the unsaved in death.  And since God knows who will receive Him, the time of their death, no matter how  'untimely' it may seem to us, makes no significant difference.  We just have to 'trust and obey' Him, and believe that He is a loving, sovereign God.  This topic is important for us to share with non-believers.  Trying to get them to understand why it's so very important for them to take a few minutes and honestly listen to what God says, and carefully consider what this all means to each individual.  Some folks spend more time thinking about what's for dinner, or what TV show to watch than where they are going after they die.

I suppose many clergy won't talk about situations like these horrific natural disasters, but they had better.  They come by the hand of God.  We are in the end of the end-times by anyone's standards, and I believe we are in the period of 'earth groanings'.   And if these are just 'groanings', can you imagine what a 'partial judgment' is going to be like?  Where is your faith?  What is your 'house' built on?  (Mathew 7: 24-27)  We need to use the 'platforms' that God creates for us at this high cost, to witness in His name.

So, when you find yourself in a surrealistic nightmare, when something like this happens to you, who are you going to cry out to?  By the way, the post-script on the convenience store and the tornado- the store was heavily damaged, except where the people were huddled for safety, except where the woman cried out to Jesus.

Bless those Lord in the 'storms' of life, both physical and spiritual storms.  And we pray that we can be used by God to 'bless' others in the storms of life.

Mathew 16: 13-16 (KJV)

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Mathew 28: 18-20

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Isaiah 9: 6 (KJV)

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Mathew 5: 43-48 (KJV)

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Mathew 8: 23-27 (KJV)

23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. 24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. 25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.

26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. 27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

Mathew 16: 24-28

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Romans 10: 8-13 (KJV)

8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Psalms 116: 15 (KJV)

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints

Mathew 7: 24-27

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.