By now you have all heard the news about the flooding in Iowa and the death of the four Boy Scouts in a tornado. Let us keep the families involved in this natural disaster in our prayers as they suffer through this unfortunate event, and let us do all that we can to render aid and assistance.
In this age of catastrophic size natural disasters such as earthquakes, cyclones, hurricanes, and tsunamis, the question many people are asking is this, "Are natural disasters a sign of God's judgment?" Many so-called modern day prophets of doom have used this argument repeatedly to rationalize the destructions caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and Louisiana, the earthquake in China, the Tsunamis in Asia, and natural disasters in Third World countries. Is there really any true justification for such a rationale? Do these events occur because God is angry at us?
Jesus was asked these same questions when He was on Earth, and it is interesting to note His answer. Back in His day, when He walked the Earth, a tower had collapsed and killed eighteen people. Many were upset about this, and some wondered if this had happened because those eighteen people were evil persons. Some had concluded that those eighteen persons must have been evil for such a thing to happen to them. Surely God would not allow such a thing to happen to good people, right? The answer Jesus gave however was both eye-opening and startling. He said,
"...Those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:4-5).
People who perish in natural disasters are not inherently more evil than anyone else. Natural disasters can happen to anyone whether good or bad. The thing we are to do then is not try to judge others when disasters occur, but offer prayers and help, knowing that disaster can strike ANYONE at any time. Yes, the eighteen people of Luke 13:4-5 perished with their sins, but not because their sins were more grievious than anyone else's. We are all sinners and have done wrong against God and others, so these things can happen to anyone of us at any time. Jesus is therefore calling us to repentance from sin, which is to turn away from sin in our personal lives, so that when a disaster strikes, our soul will not perish, even if our body perishes: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in Him will not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
Natural disasters are going to occur, and even more frequently as we draw towards the end of time (Matthew 24:3-7). We need to do all that we can to prepare for such events, because their coming is inevitable. We must reinforce our homes, stock up on emergency supplies, plan an evacuation route, formulate an emergency plan, move away from disaster-prone areas if possible, etc. Most importantly however, we must secure the safety of our souls, so that if we perish in the disaster bodily, we are assured of the salvation of our souls. Let us therefore put away our personal judgments against anyone who has suffered in a natural disaster, and reach out in sympathy and love to offer comfort and aid, knowing full well that such things can happen to anyone.