God, Cyclones, Earthquakes and the News

For by him all things
were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether
thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and
for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

In the latest mini-post I referenced the death and destruction that have occurred in Burma and China in the last few days. As of
this date the AP reports that in Myanmar as many as 128,000 have died and over
2 ½ million have been severely impacted by the cyclone which devastated that
region on May 3rd of this year. In China, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck the  central part of that country this past Monday. The death toll is now
estimated by the Chinese government to reach as high as 50,000. Fox News
reports a Chinese government official as stating that over 4 million homes have
been shattered in the region of the quake.


These are staggering numbers. The news media reports these
events as geologic or meteorological occurrences, but this only addresses the
mechanics of how the event happened. For example, an AP story in the May 15th
edition of USAToday.com reports on the China earthquake this way:  earthquake this way: Yuji
Yagi, a seismologist at Tsukuba University, said data show the 155-mile
Longmenshan Fault tore in two sections, the first one ripping about 7½ yards,
followed by a second one that sheared 4⅓ yards.

But is this the message that you are to tell your children,
that these poor people just happened to be in the way of a random geologic
episode and had their lives turned upside down by chance? What part does God
play in all of this, if any? In the next several posts we will consider how to
talk about such events, that dramatically shape the lives of so many people.

First, examine with me how the perception of “God and news”
has changed over time.

In 1866, James Parton observed, “The skilled and faithful
journalist, recording with exactness and power the thing that has come to pass,
is Providence addressing men."

Daniel Boorstin records the story of a Southern Baptist preacher
before the Civil War who used to say when a newspaper was brought into the
room, “Be kind enough to let me have it a few minutes, till I see how the
Supreme Being is governing the world.”

Charles A. Dana, a respected American editor with the New York Sun in the 19th century
said, “I have always felt that whatever the Divine Providence permitted to
occur I was not too proud to report.”

The above quotes are from Daniel Boorstin’s book, The Image, which I recommend to you. Boorstin
goes on to say that these thoughts represent a very old-fashioned way of
thinking. It is no longer politically correct to associate God with the news of
the day. Low pressure centers form and produce hurricanes and tornadoes. A
fault line slips and an earthquake happens. In a world which refuses to allow
for the actions of the God of the Bible, life hangs in the balance of random
chance. This view is pervasive and impacts you and your children, whether you
realize it or not. Instead of assuming the providential control of God, the
relevance of God—any god—is assigned by the media to memorial services
occurring after the fact.

The perspective we learn from the God of the Bible is quite
the opposite. Colossians 1 speaks of Jesus Christ holding all things together—all things. Whatever happens in this
world, as Christians we must start with this fact. This will provide stability
for your children. As we examine this together, give some thought to how the
events of daily life are portrayed by the news media and our culture. Put
yourselves in the place of your children. How do they hear about current events,
both good and bad? What are the sources of their information? Then think about
how these various sources deal with God and his control of the world we live
in. Do your children hear God presented as an observer, a bystander, or is he
even thought of at all?

In the next post we will consider what the Bible has to say
about God and current events.

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