We don’t like to admit it, but disasters are always around us. Sometimes they become more prominent because of their proportion or proximity. How should we process these things?
Jesus speaks clearly to the matter, citing two well-known instances. One was caused by man, the other by nature. Jesus was warning the disciples against presuming to directly trace the effects of a specific sin to a specific disaster. He wasn’t saying that these people were innocent, but that all are guilty before God. He turns the question from “why did this happen?” into “what does this mean to me?” and from “what about God?” to “what about me?” The tragedies of today and tomorrow speak 4 things to us.
It speaks of reality. We live in a fallen world where these things will happen. We are supposed to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15 / 2 Corinthians 1:4). But we don’t have to grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Amidst all the calamity, catastrophe, chaos, and confusion, that is the larger point. Are you anchored in eternal reality?
It speaks of revelation. Disasters reveal His reign. He is the Creator and Sustainer (Colossians 1:15-17 / Hebrews 1:2-3). Judgment is coming (2 Peter 3:10-13). We don’t need to judge others, we need to pray for them and to show mercy, and part of that mercy is bringing the gospel message. Are you revealing the eternal truth to others?
It speaks of repentance. This is both our ongoing state of repentance (vs.3), as well as our initial repentance (vs.5). Disasters are most often sudden, and unexpected. Jesus tells us to repent otherwise we might die suddenly and in a state of unbelief. Those who died didn’t think they would die soon; we can suppose that most of them were not ready. Are you remaining ready?
It speaks of redemption. If we do repent we will not suffer eternal death, but receive eternal life. In the midst of destruction, we can hear God’s merciful plea to be reconciled to Him. Don’t turn on Him in anger, and don’t turn away from Him in fear, but turn to Him in faith. Then no matter what happens, you will avoid the ultimate disaster (John 6:37).
Calamities are bound to happen. The question is do you hear what they are saying?