Natural disasters, or so-called acts of God, can change our lives very quickly, producing great hardship, suffering, and pain. However, our sovereign Lord uses such life-changing events to teach us important lessons and give us a biblical, God-honoring perspective on life.
Disasters remind us of what is truly valuable.
After a recent hurricane, the governor called for a statewide day of prayer, saying, “We need to turn to God for strength, hope, and comfort.”
Had this been recommended a few days before the hurricane, this leader would have been mocked by the press and political colleagues and perhaps even lost credibility and the next election. But suddenly, praying was acceptable. In fact, prayer was valuable and appreciated . . . because trouble had made an appearance.
One church leader from centuries ago is reported to have said, “God wants to give us something but cannot because our hands are full.” When we are stripped of everything and our hands are emptied, we discover the most important things all over again.
Acts of God release our claim on the expectations of life.
The things we thought we were guaranteed disappear when natural disasters arrive. This is true also of personal challenges we face, such as bankruptcy, sickness, or an accident. They all remind us that life can change on a dime and that our expectation and hope must be in God and Him alone.
Disasters provide a realistic perspective on the brevity of life.
When things are going well, we fall under the delusion that life is going to last a long time. It just might. But then we see sudden widespread suffering and perhaps personally find ourselves hooked up to a dozen tubes, hearing the doctors saying, “We got you here just in time.”
When life sails smoothly along, the last thing we tend to think about is that God has already measured our breaths and the number of times our hearts will beat.
When disaster strikes, we’re reminded that our lives are always in His control.
Disasters remind us of a future judgment.
“Nature reflects God’s gracious attributes, but also His attributes of anger and justice.” Job’s friend Elihu rightly observed this truth (Job 37:6, 10-13).
Natural disasters that take the lives of others are reminders to us of a coming judgment from which there is no escape.
In Luke 13 Jesus was preaching just after a tower had fallen and eighteen people had died in that unexpected disaster. The Lord used the incident as an illustration that everyone is going to die. He essentially asked His audience, “Are you ready for the judgment? Have you repented of your sin?”
The suffering of people around the globe reminds us of a future, far greater suffering for those who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Even for us believers, the unexpected loss of someone’s life reminds us that we all have an appointment with God one day.
Acts of God are an invitation to walk with God.
God does not promise us the absence of storms, but He does promise us His presence in the middle of the storms.
We don’t need to panic or grow resentful. We can remain gracious and calm, even in the face of unwanted news.
We don’t want to be like the man who had been bitten by a dog and was informed by his physician that he now had rabies. Upon hearing the diagnosis, the patient immediately pulled out a pad and pencil and began to write feverishly.
Assuming the patient was making out his last will and testament, his doctor said, “Listen, this doesn’t mean you’re going to die. There’s a cure for rabies.”
“I know that,” said the man; “I’m just making out a list of people I’m going to bite.”
Close calls in life are not urgent appeals to settle old scores. They are reminders that the time to walk with God is now.
Disasters remind us that temporary suffering will be replaced with everlasting joy.
The apostle Paul writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
When the great ocean liner Titanic went down, more than 1,500 people went to a watery grave.
After news of the Titanic’s tragedy reached the world, the challenge was to inform the relatives whether their loved ones were among the dead or the living. At the White Star Line’s office in Liverpool, England, a huge board was set up; on one side was a heading that read, “Known to Be Saved.” On the other side was the heading, “Known to Be Lost.”
Hundreds of people gathered to intently watch the updates. When a messenger brought new information, those waiting held their breaths, wondering on which side the messenger would write a passenger’s name.
Although the travelers on the Titanic were either first-class, second-class, or third-class passengers, after the ship went down, there were only two categories: the saved and the lost.
At the end of human history, the judgment of God will be fully revealed, and it will make any and all natural disasters seem very small and insignificant. And there will be only two categories that will matter––those who are saved and those who are lost.
For the saved, the suffering of earthly life will finally make sense. For the lost, the suffering will just begin . . . to never end.
Are you ready, not just for the acts of God on earth, but for the final act of God’s judgment?
Those who believe in Jesus Christ will be ushered into that heavenly city where suffering will finally make sense. In fact, it will no longer matter, for sorrow will be replaced with everlasting joy.