We sing about the grace of God. Amazing Grace, Good, Good Father, 10,000 Reasons, What a Wonderful Name. The list goes on and on.
Yet we see destruction all over the world. Irma in Florida, Harvey in Texas. Wildfires sweeping the west, filling it with ash and smoke. An 8.1 earthquake rocks Mexico, where buildings collapse and tsunamis threaten. Flooding cripples South Asia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, while drought and the slow emergency of famine devastate the Horn of Africa.
And it’s not just natural disaster. Russia is preparing to amass troops on the borders of three NATO countries for what appears to be a series of massive war games. The genocidal slaughter continues in Syria. Terror attacks occur around the globe.
North Korea makes nuclear threats, and tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem spike, then settle, only to spike again.
People have all kinds of theories about what is happening…
- Is this God’s judgment?
- Are these satanic attacks? divine judgments?
- Are they completely natural occurrences? The results of global warming?
- Or are they something else?
Brothers and sisters, we will have to be careful what we say.
We need to be careful when we place God’s name on situations. What God plans, does, and shows us is for Him to know and Him to make known.
Let’s be clear…
God will judge the whole world. (Matthew 25:31-46)
His wrath will be poured on a rebellious creation. (Revelation 16:1)
His voice will thunder with such intensity that the very earth will shake.
As for what is going on today? It is clear: God is trying to get our attention.
We read in in Luke 21:
And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!
God is trying to get our attention. Just like He always has.
The prophecies in the Scriptures are clear: God will use His power to persuade people and nations to let go of all of the flawed political, philosophical, intellectual, and religious notions we cling to. To let go of ideas and beliefs that won’t give us true and lasting peace, that don’t give us true and eternal hope, that can’t bring us any enduring security. Ideas that can’t provide real forgiveness from our sins or eternal life for our souls.
These recent natural disasters remind us of our frailty, of our weakness, of our helplessness, of our need. They remind us that we are the creation, not the Creator, and that our help is found in Him alone.
We can send satellites to Mars and build enough nuclear weapons to blow up the earth. And we can design robots and discover the meaning of DNA.
Yet we cannot stop the wind or the rain or the fire.
We cower before Mother Nature, recognizing our fate is not in our hands.
The God of the Bible wants to shake us loose of such things in order that we might turn to Him and to the life He offers through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord isn’t letting America and other nations be shaken because He hates us. He loves us and wants us to repent and turn to Him and call out to Him, as individuals, as families, as leaders, and as entire nations.
You might say, But how can that be? Surely God is not passive in the world. Surely, He had power to stop the storms. Some would even say He sends the storms.
Yet even those who believe that the Lord is sending these disasters as judgment on America must do as Job did many centuries ago. Although he was convinced that God was responsible for his terrible suffering, Job knew his only hope was in God.
So, what did he do? In the words of a Jewish philosopher, he fled from God to God.
That was his only choice.
And it is our only choice.
Because in Jesus’ own words in Matthew 24:36:
… about that day or hour no one knows,
not even the angels in heaven,
nor the Son,
but only the Father.
Only the Father knows.
The more we focus on the problems in this world, the bigger they grow. Yet, the more we look to God, the more we can trust His strong hand of love and protection.
As Horatio Spafford wrote, even after fire claimed his home and business, sickness claimed his son, and the sea claimed his four daughters:
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It can be well with our soul as we look to the Father for comfort, hope, and strength. And could there be any more comforting words than those of Jesus?
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world, you will have tribulation.
But take heart; I have overcome the world
John 16:33 ESV