Storms of Judgment, Streams of Mercy

Tornados everywhere!  My own county got ripped up just two weeks ago, along with much of eastern NC.  Now, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia have suffered horrible damage and loss of life.

It never ceases to amuse (and sadden) me how Christians shy away from attributing control over weather systems to God.  From non-believers this is expected, but not from people who claim to read and believe in the God of the Bible and the Bible of the One True God.  I mean, read Job 38-41 and Isaiah 40-48 for starters. 

Actually, what many Christians do today is attribute only mercy to God, while shirking to give Him glory when and if He gives justice.  So, for instance, if our homes were spared, or our neighbors’ homes, we boldly say, “We were blessed” or “God was good to us.”  But, for those poor souls who lost property or life, we simply say something like, “That’s tragic” or “Unlucky” or “Unfortunate.” 

Yet, God plainly says He sends blessing and cursing, good and calamity, mercy and justice.  God raises up nations and brings them down.  We must glorify Him for it all, because only He knows best and only He can possibly “work all things together for good to them who love God and are called acording to His purpose” (Rom 8:28).  And, the accounts rolling in even in my own city show that indeed God is doing His eternal, saving work even through these storms.

But, I want to avoid sounding trite, and I surely would not make light of any human suffering.  And let me be very clear, I do think Christians should exercise extreme caution when trying to label a certain weather event a sure judgment of God, or a direct act of Divine retribution on certain people.  After all, two things are true in these matters today:

  1. We do not have any direct revelation (Scripture) from God telling us about His precise reasons and purposes for the recent tornados. 
  2. Inevitably, Christians end up dying in these storms right alongside their non-Christian neighbors.

So, how are we as blood-bought, grace-saved followers of Christ to react to these horrific, destructive storms?  The Master provided us the answer in Luke 13:1-5.

Apparently, two “tragedies” had occured.  One, Pilot had mingled the blood of some Galileans with their sacrifices offered in worship.  Two, a tower in Siloam fell on 18 people, killing them.  Unexpected, horrible events that brought suffering.  How should we react, Jesus?  Please tell us.

And He answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.  Or 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’ ” (Luke 13:2-5).

Whoa.  Sobering.  So, if I get Jesus’ answer, we should all be spending time in worship with our families tonight, praising God that He has not visited our iniquities upon our own heads yet.  We are not better than Alabama-folk.  We are dreadfully sinful, just like them.  We are deserving of God’s justice and wrath, just like them.  We have no hope of salvation outside of the bloody cross-work of Christ, just like them

Why not us?  Why has God not destroyed our homes today, snatched our lives, or sent us to hell today? 

This is the great equalizing effect of the true gospel.  Humility.  Worship.  Love of the God of totally unmerited mercy.  Love for all others, too, especially our fellow Jesus-needing sinners who are suffering.

So, beloved saints of God in Christ, rise up and “kiss the Son” tonight, then go find ways to help your suffering neighbors.  Go love them in Jesus’ Name.  Go share with them the amazing gospel grace of a God who sent His own Son to suffer more than any man.  Go tell them of the One whose suffeing brings many sons to glory!

O Lord, please help us, and help our suffering countrymen.  In wrath, Lord, remember mercy.  Help Your church be Your hands and feet in these troubled times, that the Name and Fame of Jesus may be spread throughout our land, and that His gospel may take root in many weary hearts.  Amen. 

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