I believe that Jesus, the Son of God as Man, is with the people of Haiti in their pain today. He shares with them in their suffering as the whole creation groans “as in the pains of childbirth” (Rom. 8:22.)

What we are seeing is another contraction in the birth of the new heaven and the new earth – and contractions hurt. They hurt a lot! Or so I’m told by mothers who have experienced them, I have obviously never given birth to a child. And I have also never experienced the pain of a devastating earthquake. But I have witnessed both and expect that I will witness more of both as the years go by.

The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to compare the suffering of humanity to the suffering of childbirth. This comparison reveals at least three important realties about suffering:

Suffering – disease, earthquakes, war, famine – is the result of the fall. Remember what the Lord said to Eve after the fall? “With pain you will give birth to children” (Gen. 3:16.) Because of the fall no child is born without pain and likewise the new heaven and the new earth are not born without pain.

Like childbirth, the pain of the birth of the new heaven and new earth is leading to something far more wonderful than the present and temporary pain we are experiencing. Even in the midst of the birth pains we can have hope for what is coming.

God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, does not leave us alone to endure our pain without help. The Son was born of a woman, coming into our world in the midst of pain, and he endured the pain and suffering of our fallenness on the cross.

While we wait for the new heaven and the new earth to be born we endure the birth pains with hope because of what we know is coming: the end of death and sorrow and the wiping away of every tear. And our brother Jesus waits with us, and endures our pain with us, and pours the Spirit of his Father’s love into the hearts of millions of people who will pray, give, rescue, and rebuild to ease the pain we are going through.

~ Jonathan Stepp

Update: Click over to The Surprising God Blog to read more of Ted’s thoughts on this subject and to find out how to donate to help through the G.C.I. disaster relief fund. The info on helping out is at the end of Ted’s Post:


8 comments so far

  1. Jerome on

    Haiti…I thought it would appear on this blog soon. Thank you. This tragedy really tugs at my heart, thanks to the compassion of the Holy Spirit! The mystery of pain and suffering to me is in the not knowing how much longer it will last. The Father knows when He is sending Jesus to be visible to every eye…He know when the time will be right. We don’t. This requires the faith of Jesus, doesn’t it? One heartening observation I have made in the media coverage of this ongoing, sad event has been the large number of Christian missionary and aid organization members being interviewed and quoted from the scene. Another indication that Christ is with Haiti through His body on earth now, the church. We are the “Emmanuel” people. Dear Father, Son and Spirit, please heal and reach out to your poor children in Haiti.

  2. Ted Johnston on

    Thanks for your insightful and compassionate comments Jonathan. Quite a contrast to the recent wrong-headed comments from Pat Robertson – see the Newsweek article on the theology of this disaster at http://www.newsweek.com/id/231004

  3. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks for the comments guys – very helpful.
    Ted, I like the link to the Newsweek article. I actually started to critique Pat Robertson in this post but I couldn’t find any polite language to use! Seriously, I am praying that Jesus will get Pat’s head in a better place or get him retired before he disgraces the Church anymore!
    I also want to recommend Ted’s post over at The Surprising God, I’ve just updated my post here to include a link to his. You can find it here, and Ted includes info on donating to help through the G.C.I. disaster relief fund:

  4. Jason on

    That “satan” letter was classic! Uh-oh…does this mean I have to get rid of my SUV?

    Seriously, nice words Jonathan. I get so sick and tired of hearing how all the natural disasters that cause death and destruction or even terrorist activity (see 9/11) are all the judgment of God. This kind of thinking is simply ridiculous. I wish the Pat Robertsons of the world would simply stop talking!


  5. purplehymnal on

    So you believe Grace Communion International should be fully accountable for the 15% of congregation donations which are sent to Headquarters, but you have no problems at all with promoting a “Disaster Relief Fund” that has absolutely zero accountability?

    That money is not going to Haiti. It is going into a financial black hole in Glendora. If Ted Johnston, Joseph Tkach Jr, or Bernie Schnippert want to me to stop saying that, then one or all of them needs to step up, and provide full documentation as to where all funds earmarked “Disaster Relief Fund” are actually being spent.

    After all, if they are on the up-and-up, and the money really is going to Haiti, then there should be no issue with providing this documentation, in an honest and transparent manner.

    Shouldn’t there?

  6. Pastor Jonathan on

    You know, I’m beginning to think that you and I are actually talking about two different things in this conversation and in the conversation we had in the comments section on “Trinitarian Economics”.
    When you make the statement “That money is not going to Haiti” it seems to me that you are over reaching. Since, as you point out, there is no documentation, the fact is that you don’t know where the money is going. You can’t absolutely say that it is or isn’t going to Haiti. The only intellectually honest thing you can say is “I don’t if that money is going to Haiti.”
    Why would you over reach in this way, almost to the point of libel, by accusing the leaders of GCI of fraud when, by your own admission, you actually don’t know if they’re committing fraud or not? The only explanation I can think of is that you are working on the assumption that the GCI leaders are lying about what they’re doing with the money. You don’t know for sure, you don’t have any evidence, but you make that assumption and reason from there. Since your starting assumption is that they are lying it doesn’t even occur to you that maybe the money really is going to Haiti.
    This brings me to why I think we’re talking about two different things. If you think they are lying then the only documentation that will ever satisfy you is a forensic audit by an independent agency in which receipts, bank statements, etc., for years past are reviewed. Even the ECFA doesn’t do forensic audits on every member of their organization every year for the same reason the IRS doesn’t audit every tax payer every year: it’s more work than any one organization could ever handle. No matter how many contracts, audits, or documents are involved every economic transaction ultimately involves some level of trust. You don’t know the GCI leaders, you don’t have a relationship with them, and you don’t trust them.
    I, on the other hand, have a personal relationship with these guys and have found them to be honest in their handling of money as long as I have ministered with them. So, I have some level of trust in them. For example, I know that the money donated to the Disaster Relief Fund for hurricane Katrina went to victims of that disaster because I personally know and have talked to the people who received the help. This is what I meant in our other conversation when I talked about the personal relationships in a small organization such as ours.
    So I am a part of this personal network of relationships built on trust and therefore I would be satisfied if they simply issued a document listing item by item what they’ve spent the money on in the same way I issue such a document to my congregation.
    Based on the comments you make here, and in our other conversation, it seems to me that if GCI published such a document itemizing dollar for dollar how they spent the money you would simply accuse them of lying in that document because, at the most fundamental level, you believe they are lying about the money.

  7. purplehymnal on

    “So I am a part of this personal network of relationships built on trust and therefore I would be satisfied if they simply issued a document listing item by item what they’ve spent the money on in the same way I issue such a document to my congregation.”

    I would be satisfied with such a document as well. The veracity of the document is not the issue, for me; the fact that the organization is transparent and honest enough to issue such a document in the first place, is the benchmark that I think ECFA, as well as members of the public, are looking for in Christian churches.

    I’m sorry if I did not make that clear enough, and I apologize if I offended you by over-reaching, which I admit that I did. I have no concern as to whether or not the contents of the documentation is “true” (although that should be a concern for attenders of congregations within the denomination), I just want the denomination to start making the attempt at transparency and honesty in their financial matters.

    However, the salient point, as you say, remains that no one knows where the money is going. And the denominational leadership does not, apparently, care to reveal this. If they, in fact, have nothing to hide then it should be a non-issue (and the document you cite above should just be a routine publication, as it is in your congregations).

    What is the reason that it is not?

    That you have verified the Disaster Relief Fund money did go to Katrina victims is good, and is an example of good accountability. Kudos to you, for doing that, and I wish you good luck in determining where the 15% donations from your congregations are going in future.

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