Dealing with Disaster
Raise your hand if you’re aware of the terrible and heart-wrenching natural disasters that are plaguing our nation.
Yep, as I expected, nearly all of you have heard about or watched footage of the fearsome tornadoes that have ravaged through the southeast corner of America killing hundreds in their wake. And then there are the deadly fires that consumed millions of acres and destroyed lives in Texas.
Now, raise your hand again if the awareness of all these disasters leaves you with the questions that most Christians wonder about, but are sometimes afraid to ask:
God…where are you in all these catastrophes? Couldn’t you have simply spoken a word to still the tornadoes and quench the fires?
And then there is THE question behind all others:
If God is all-powerful and loving, then why didn’t He stop the tragedies from happening? So He must either not be all-powerful, or not loving…end of story.
Or is it? When people experience calamity and heartbreak, is that the end of their story?
That’s certainly what a man named Job thought when he endured an onslaught of disasters that would have driven most people to inconsolable despair. Try to put yourself into his world as you read about the tornado of adversity that stormed through every area of his life-
Sometime later, while Job's children were having one of their parties at the home of the oldest son, a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys grazing in the field next to us when Sabeans attacked. They stole the animals and killed the field hands. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened."
While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, "Bolts of lightning struck the sheep and the shepherds and fried them-burned them to a crisp. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened."
While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, "Chaldeans coming from three directions raided the camels and massacred the camel drivers. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened."
While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, "Your children were having a party at the home of the oldest brother when a tornado swept in off the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they died. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened" (Job 1:13-19).
And things continued to spiral downward following these events. Job lost his health, was accused by his ‘friends’ of being the sinner responsible for his losses, and though he valiantly kept his faith through nearly all the ordeal, the haunting questions about God’s goodness and love overtook his thoughts:
How I wish we had an arbitrator
to step in and let me get on with life—
To break God's death grip on me,
to free me from this terror so I could breathe again.
Then I'd speak up and state my case boldly.
As things stand, there is no way I can do it" (Job 9:33-35).
In effect, Job is saying, “God, I’d like to meet you in court so you can stand trial for not stopping the disasters. Either you are not all-powerful or not loving…so which is it?”
Much to Job’s surprise, God answers from the eye of a storm with a hurricane force series of questions that all fit under the category of “Are YOU talking to ME, Job???” It’s not that God was being cruel or evasive, just the opposite actually. The answer to our question lies in another question, which is—
Is God in control or not? The answer is a resounding YES…God is in control! And because I can hold on to this truth like a ship’s mast in a violent tempest, I can be sure that by allowing trials in my life He is acting in the most loving way possible for my ultimate good. It is not only possible but absolutely true that our all-powerful God allows tribulations because He is knitting us into a grand story of His love for the world and the salvation of humanity.
That’s why He boldly declares this truth:
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).
When we are walking through the storms of life and feel like innocent victims in this broken, fallen and sometimes evil world, it is easy to only be aware of the pain and loss, but we can trust and be certain that above the dark clouds is a loving Father who will redeem all evil and reshape it into His perfect plan.
Remember also that pain and trial are instruments that God can use to reach people who are far from Him. As C.S. Lewis brilliantly stated:
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
Perhaps you have friends who don’t know Jesus Christ as their Savior who are experiencing difficulty right now. What a huge opportunity you have to be not only to be the hands and feet of Jesus, but also the voice as well.
God is all-powerful and loving. Let’s trust in His plan and share the most powerful and loving message ever proclaimed…the Good News about Jesus Christ—the One who will “wipe every tear from our eyes and make all things new!” (Revelation 21).
It is a sad fact that our fallen world is plagued with difficulties and trials. When Adam and Eve introduced sin into our world, it wasn’t just humanity itself that was impacted by their fall—sin affected everything, included the physical word we inhabit (Romans 8:19-21).
Instead of blaming and questioning God, we should see these difficult times as opportunities to trust in God and believe His promises that He is at work redeeming the pain in our lives. Christians who persevere in the midst of disaster are powerful witnesses for Jesus Christ, and believers who reach out to hurting friends create awesome opportunities to share their faith.
Jesus, we thank you that even in our darkest hour you remain the Light of the World. Father, we thank you that Your ways are not our ways, and that you that You are always in control. Holy Spirit, we ask that you fill us with your power to help those who are hurting so they can find true peace and healing through the Gospel. In Jesus Name, Amen.
John 16:33. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Check out the article “Why does God allow natural disasters, i.e. earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis?”