Many of us have seen natural disasters in our lifetime. They may be earthquakes, tornados, or hurricanes. They are devastating and affect many people. With natural disasters, there is loss whether of property or life. Sometimes both. For most people, especially Christians, natural disasters causes us to think.
One of the common thoughts of natural disasters is why this happens. We live in a fallen world corrupted by the sin of our first parents. The sin of Adam has brought death and even has affected this world which groaning waiting for the sons of God to be revealed (Romans 8:18-23). Sometimes Christians have blamed the sin on a particular people. Take my hometown of Houston, which has been devastated by Hurricane Harvey. There are some that think the sin of the people of the city is what caused the Hurricane to be more severe than originally predicted. Sam Storms wrote, in relation to Hurricane Harvey:
Great natural disasters such as this tell us nothing about the comparative sinfulness of those who are its victims. Please do not conclude that the citizens of southeast Texas are more sinful than any other group of individuals that have not as yet experienced such devastation. Please do not conclude that we are more righteous than the people of Houston because God has thus far spared us from such events. The Bible simply won’t let us draw either conclusion. What the Bible does say is that we all continue to live and flourish not because we deserve it but solely because of the mercy and longsuffering of God. Life is on loan from God. He does not owe us existence and what he has mercifully given he can take back at any time and in any way he sees fit.
Who can forget Pat Robertson condemning the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina for allowing the sin of homosexuality to become the norm. There were even some making the same case when the terror attacks happen on 09-11-2001. When our city was going through a drought, one lady told me her son thinks that God is waiting for one person to repent so God can bring the rain. We have to remember that sin does bring consequences but not punishment because Jesus took our punishment.
Another thing that natural disasters make us think is does this mean Jesus is coming soon. That is the blessed hope for Christ to return and yes, all Christians long for that day. Natural disasters does not mark that Jesus is coming. Storms wrote:
We should not look upon such events and conclude that the Second Coming of Christ and the end of history are at hand, but neither should we conclude that the Second Coming of Christ and the end of history are not at hand. What we should do is humble ourselves before the Lord and prepare our hearts for the day of his return, whenever that may be, whether in our lifetime or some distant date centuries from now.
Events like this should make us long for Christ's return and remind us this world is also not our home. Storms said:
Events such as this should remind us that no place on earth is safe and that we will all one day die (unless Jesus returns first). Whether by a peaceful natural death at the age of 90, or by a sudden heart attack at 50, or in a car accident at 15, or by a slow battle with cancer at virtually any age, we will all likewise die. We are not immortal. The only ultimately and eternally safe place to be is in the arms of our heavenly Father from which no hurricane or tsunami or cancer or car wreck can ever snatch us or wrench us free.
Natural disasters should also make Christians think about service to their neighbor. Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as we do ourselves. We should also seek the welfare of the city whether it was our own or somewhere else. Many of us may not be able to physically go to some places that were hit by a natural disaster, but we can pray and we can give (make sure you know who and where you are giving to). Churches can send people as well. One thing that we can pray for, especially after the events of Hurricane Harvey, is revival in America. Here is another quote from Sam Storms:
Pray that God will use such an event to open the hearts and eyes of not only our nation but every people group on earth that is immersed in paganism, to see the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and turn in faith to him, lest something infinitely worse than a hurricane and flood befall them: Eternal condemnation. Eternal suffering.
All quotes from Sam Storms were from his article, 10 Things You Should Know about Hurricane Harvey and the Sovereignty of God.
Also check out, What is God Saying to Us? by Tom Ascol