As I write this, the current milieu of much of Accra is that of despondency as we’re still in the throes of coming to grips with the recent twin disaster of fire and flood which resulted in massive loss of life and property.
Amidst much of the palpable anguish and grieving is welcoming news of recuperating victims and also the much anticipated albeit belated implementation of actions plans that have seen many a day atop dusty shelves by city authorities in attempts to forestall a possible recurrence of flooding as we’re still in the early days of the annual raining season. There is also news of various groups and organizations working in concert to bring relief to the victims especially in the worst affected areas. Indeed there is much to admire in all these selfless acts of assistance in this time of difficulty.
In the midst of all this, my attention has been brought to one particular story about one lady’s “miraculous escape” from the inferno which many are touting as a modern day equivalent of the account of the biblical narrative of the three Hebrew boys in the furnace (see Daniel 3). I had initially picked up the story in the media but had brushed it aside as one of those numerous sensational fictitious stories that usually go viral on social media.
However, I have been proven wrong as I was informed by the coauthor of this blog that the character in the said narrative appeared on one of the premier morning shows in Accra to recount her story. I have since been in discussions with him and have decided to pen down a word of caution as the narrative seem to paint a skewed picture of what being a Christian entails.
Firstly, I must state that I’m mighty glad about the fact that she openly professes her Christian faith and also that she attributes her narrow escape to be the result of the grace of God. I could wish for more of such testimonies as they are some of the ways to boost the faith of the saints by way of reminder that “the name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it, and is safe”. Indeed, Christians believe in a God who is more than able to keep his own because he neither sleeps nor slumber. However, I’m concerned about the, dare I say, embellished manner of the narrative as it seems to suggest, unwittingly perhaps, that once you’re a Christian, you are somewhat shielded from such gory loss of life.
The fact is, she was not the only person to have escaped the incident. There were a good number of people who also survived the incident, among whom are non-Christians. Another fact is, there were a number of Christians who perished in the same incident. This alone should be enough to shatter any such notion of Christianity being one’s sure bet to safety from disaster. My worry is that the manner in which many are hailing her escape reduces God’s providence to a mere protection against future loss. I am also concerned that another possible fallout from her story will be a perception of a lack of or weak faith on the side of those Christians who perished. This is most unfortunate indeed!
It is very disheartening to know that many are made to believe they automatically fly above all the besetting problems of life once they profess to be Christians according to a certain ‘gospel’ which unfortunately has spread very far and wide. Yet all one needs to do is simply take a cursory look at certain pages of the Bible to ascertain that that belief is patently false! Take the apostle Paul for instance; he was imprisoned, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, hungry, cold, and destitute(2 Cor.11:23-28). In one of his blog posts, writing on the same incident, the co-author of this blog wrote that, among those who perished in the inferno on that dark Wednesday some “might have probably prayed in the morning for safety before leaving home; yet they didn’t return. Has God abandoned them? Did their faith fail? No, death is inevitable. How we die has no bearing on our level of faith…”
The obvious truth is, being a Christian in fact comes with its own set of peculiar challenges in addition to the routine troubles of daily life. But Christians take comfort in the fact that “nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures under his control, so that not one of the hairs on our heads (for they are all numbered) nor even a little bird can fall to the ground without the will of our Father.” Article 13, Belgic Confession
In the meantime, we do well if we offer relief items to the victims of the flood and the bereaved families while keeping them in our prayers to God remembering that, we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” May God grant us the grace to endure all the hardships in these trying times!
Soli Deo Gloria!!!