“Do you think that they were worse sinners . . . ? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:4-5
In light of an August that has uncovered hatred from white supremists and the immense damage left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we can’t ignore the big question: “WHY?” Some Christians are quick to declare that a public disaster is the result of divine judgment. When in reality, a complex array of factors lie behind most disasters.
In Luke 13, Jesus was asked about some people who were cruelly murdered, and about 18 people who died when a tower collapsed on them. The people asking the questions were wondering if those who died were worse sinners than others. “I tell you, no,” said Jesus, “but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
Instead of reading divine judgment into tragedies, we should see them as a call to personal repentance. This is especially true for unbelievers, but it is also true for Christians. Acts of terrorism, for example, challenge us to pray earnestly for the conversion and the good of the deluded people who commit such acts.
Calamities in themselves are never good, but they can fulfill God’s purposes when they serve as a wake-up call to believers, and when they bring unbelievers to repentance and faith in Jesus. Let’s not ask, “Who’s to blame?” but “Lord, what are You saying to me?”