Any time a disaster like a hurricane or earthquake or tsunami strikes, people begin either thanking, or cursing God. Obviously, I would be one of the former, but I want to challenge those who trust in God to think critically and biblically to understand why we should thank God when disaster "strikes." First, let me get rid of that unbiblical language. Disaster does not "strike" as if disaster was some kind of being that controlled itself, or as if a tornado has power of its own to destroy the houses, stores, and lives. God controls the weather, including hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes: "I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things" (Isaiah 45:7). "I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal, and there is none that can deliver out of My hand," (Deuteronomy 32:39). "They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues" (Revelation 16:7).
There Are Victims, Just Not Innocent Ones
As you can see, a tornado is an act of God. The question remains: Why do we thank God and pray to God during a tornado, and thank Him when we survive, if it is God who caused the tornado to begin with? The reason we should thank God is that we know that He is the one who has the right to take life, just as He gives it, as the verse from Deuteronomy above says. Secondly, if we understand anything about ourselves, we should know, and this is very important, that we are exceedingly sinful and deserve to suffer the wrath of God. And this is true of all of us, for we are all sinners. Jesus said in Luke 13: 4, "those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”In context, what Jesus is saying here is that those 18 people who were killed by a tower falling on them did not do anything to deserve such a tragic death that we do not likewise deserve. In other words, to say that the reason a natural disaster hits and kills some but not others, and not you, is not because those people were worse sinners than everyone else. However, it is not right to say that those people who were taken in the tornado were innocent either. They were guilty sinners, and we too, are guilty sinners. To die in a tornado isn't wrong, God caused it after all. The reason it isn't wrong is because we all deserve it, and I believe God uses these disasters to do several things:
Three Ways That God Uses Natural Disasters
First, God uses natural disasters, and I think God is using some of the more recent natural disasters, to get our attention - to get the attention of Christians to preach the Gospel so that others can be saved by the power of God. To get the attention of those who are not Christians to see their sinfulness and how fleeting and uncertain life is, and that tomorrow is no guarantee, so that they will repent and be saved from the wrath of God and their sin. Second, God uses disasters to show His power. He indeed does control all things, and is far more powerful than any of us. He could wipe us out in an instant. We should stand in awe of the fierceness of God. Third, God uses natural disasters to show His grace and mercy. Even though we deserve the wrath of God, both in this life and the next, the damage that occurs to homes and families gives other believers the chance to show the grace and mercy of God. In other words, we Christians should not merely be addressing physical needs of others in this crisis (that is definitely important), but first and foremost their spiritual needs, which is always, ALWAYS, most important. And we meet spiritual needs by preaching the gospel of course, and that is really what I am trying to do right now.
The Gospel Illustrated Through Natural Disasters
The gospel can be illustrated through the tornado in Sanford like this: You and I deserve the just wrath of God because of our sinfulness. If we got what we deserved, we would all be killed in a tornado or some other like disaster, and then we would suffer for our sins in Hell forever. However, God has offered us His grace and mercy, which we do not deserve. What we do not deserve is salvation from our sins, yet incredibly God has offered it through Jesus Christ, His Son, who is God, and who died on a cross, enduring the very wrath of God for man's sins, and because of Jesus all who repent and trust in this sacrifice and in His payment for their sins will be saved both from hell and from the enslaving power of sin. And to be saved from sin is the most wonderful thing in the world. We were created to honor and glorify God, but we want to honor and glorify self instead. Salvation through Christ saves us from our desire to live for self and gives us the desire to live for God, which again is what we were created to do and what we were created to love and enjoy. Not only that, but because our sins have been paid for by Christ on the cross when He endured God's wrath for our sins, and because Christ was perfectly obedient to God's law and glorified Him, we can be saved through faith in Him. He got the wrath of God we deserved for our sins on the cross, and we, through faith in Christ and His work for us, receive His righteousness (His obedience to God's law), so that we can be viewed by God as innocent of sin and obedient to God through what Christ did for us. And that is the good news of the gospel, that Jesus Christ has lived the life we could not live, and paid the debt for our sins which we owed. Through faith in this, and this alone, we can be completely forgiven and saved from our sins so that we can live as we were meant to live- for God's glory and in obedience to Him.
The Sanford Tornado Was a Work of God
So the Sanford Tornado, like all Tornadoes, is a work of God, which shows His righteous anger and wrath against men and their wickedness, as well as our need for a Savior, to meet both our physical needs as well as our spiritual needs. Then, if the gospel is presented, we see that God is not only righteous and just, but also gracious and merciful and indeed has provided a Savior to meet our physical and spiritual needs- none other than His Son Jesus Christ, who died for all who will repent and believe the gospel. So my goal in this post is to ultimately point out God's righteous wrath against us, so that we can see our genuine need to be saved from our sins, so that you and I can live for God as you were made to do. Jesus Christ has already provided our needed salvation, and faith in Christ, and what He did for you, will save you from God's wrath and put you back in the right relationship with God, where you are no longer enemies but friends, and He is your gracious Lord, Savior, and Provider.