A month ago, Hurricane Florence struck our community here in the coastal Carolinas. And the recovery process has only just begun. And for those of us who live close to the beach, it was easy to come home and see that there wasn’t really a lot of major damage from the storm. But only five miles inland, there is flooding and devastation still happening right now. And it would be dangerous for us to ignore that.
Any time you are spared from something, whether it’s a natural disaster, an illness, or anything else, it is to be a spark. It’s to be a spark of God’s goodness, His grace, and His compassion to people who are hurting.
People ask why bad things happen in our world. They ask where God is in the midst of the storm. And the world will tell you that there will always be winners and losers. But if you look at things with spiritual eyes, you’ll see that when disaster strikes, it’s not aimed at people who are bad. It’s an opportunity for God’s people to bring hope and healing to those who need it. What the enemy means for harm, God will use for good.
The apostle Paul was a man of grit with a heart of grace. But the persecution he experienced strengthened him to spread the Good News even when he was facing great opposition.
Read some of Paul’s final words to the church in the city of Ephesus:
Acts 20:18-35—When they arrived he declared, “You know that from the day I set foot in the province of Asia until now I have done the Lord’s work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews. I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.
“And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
“And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see me again. I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault, for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know.
“So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders…And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself…You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Paul knew he was probably going to be imprisoned and executed. But despite that, he used the influence God had given him to continue to spread the Good News of Jesus for as long as he could.
Paul was a spark even in the middle of persecution. So whether it’s in the coming months as our community continues to recover from the storm, or in the future when disaster strikes, be a spark of God’s light in the darkness.
Watch this documentary to see hour Barefoot Church has been a spark through our Respond and Restore missions.
Watch the teachings from relief weekends: Dimensions of Disaster.