The recent deadly tornado strike in Kentucky and neighboring states has caused many of us to question how we should understand natural disasters. Here, I want to share with you some thoughts and biblical principles to help us all do just that.
First, let me begin by pointing out that natural disasters remind us that sin has marred creation, not just humanity. We see this in Romans 8:19-22 where Paul states that “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth” because of sin. It’s not just people who have been impacted by the negative result of Adam’s sin, it’s also our natural world.
Next, I would point out that in Matthew 24:7 Jesus singled-out natural disasters as a sign of His return. As we near His return, we can expect an increase of natural disasters in intensity and frequency. Jesus specifically mentioning natural disasters tells us that they have a part to play in the end-time scenario as we await His return.
I don’t have an obvious verse on this, but my study of Scripture leads me to think that a big purpose of natural disasters are to arouse us out of spiritual slumbers. When we hear of tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, or fires and see the pictures of victims dealing with the aftermath, it is hard not to wonder how we would fare if it was us.
Victims of natural disasters often find themselves at the complete mercy of God and the help of others when all they’ve owned has been leveled and lost by a storm. They frequently express their gratefulness for surviving and at least being alive, despite escaping with just the cloths on their back. Onlookers usually say something like, I can’t even imagine being in their shoes.
Another aspect to consider is the opportunity a natural disaster creates for others to be the hands and feet of Christ in service to the victims. Just this morning I read a social media post from a person in Kentucky who said that his area is overwhelmed at the moment with people and goods coming in to help. He mentioned that Samaritan’s Purse and the Baptist Disaster Relief workers were quick to arrive and are responding with help.
The testimony of Joseph from Egypt as recorded in Genesis often becomes the testimony given in areas where natural disasters strike. That is, when Joseph was thrown in a pit and sold to slavery by his own brothers and years later he told them, “ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good” (Genesis 50:20).
No doubt Satan and his intentions are evil against humanity, and he would want nothing more than destruction of communities and peoples’ lives, but God uses these natural disasters for an eternal good.
Lastly, we have to remember that natural disasters also fall into the category of trials, struggles, and afflictions of life. On this side of Heaven we find that our fallen nature has left us to deal with ills. The burden’s of life come in many forms and many ways and being a victim of a natural disaster is one circumstance among many.
1 Peter 4:12-13 tells us to “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you” and in this Peter reminds us that the Christian life is not one without sufferings.
The Apostle Paul helps refocus our perspective that “affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17) and that even in trials “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Whatever our lot in life’s distribution of trials, sufferings, or afflictions we have the promise of Psalm 9:9, “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.”
At CrossHope Chapel we support the disaster relief ministry of Samaritan’s Purse and have contributed to their efforts in Kentucky this week. In addition to that, let’s continue to remember these families and communities in our prayers, too.