I’m sure many of us feel the same way when we hear about disaster in the news. It’s a confused conflagration of emotions that seem to swoosh around our insides all at once. We may feel saddened, distant, angry or indifferent. Regardless of how we respond, I think the important question that comes from it is How does it affect our worship?
When we grieve, our confusion can lead us away from God. I don’t know about you, but my thinking is usually something like this: “God, I believe you are all-powerful; you could have done something to stop this; you didn’t; Why not?” It’s almost as if we start to question if God can really be trusted when bad things happen. I don’t think this is a bad thing, as long as we can get back on the right track. Doubt reveals to me that I may be wrong in what I believe about God. It’s times like these that help me to wake up and remember the truths I so quickly forget.
1. God’s goodness isn’t contingent on my physical safety or comfort. I know we don’t like this one, but I’d challenge you to find a place in scripture that promises you won’t ever lose your possessions, comfort, or your life as a Christian. It seems to be the opposite. 2 Timothy 3:12 says that all Christians will suffer in some way. This can be clearly seen in the world around us, but it isn’t meant to be depressing or discouraging. Rather it is meant to show the surpassing value of Christ apart from the life and comforts we have here on earth. His love is better than life (Psalm 63:3).
2. The evil of sin is more evil than I believe. I tend to trivialize sin and make it something less that what it is. I can easily forget that this is a fallen world that is under the crushing weight of sin. But the reality is that the curse is still in effect. This isn’t a game. Sin and Satan are real and not to be taken lightly. Our pastor once gave an illustration with a rubber snake. He held it up, wrapped it around his hand, put it right near his face, all the time saying “Shouldn’t I be afraid?” Of course not. He then had a professional animal specialist come onto the stage with live rattlesnake. He wouldn’t get within ten feet of the venomous creature. After the snake was gone he picked up the rubber snake again and said, “This is how we deal with deadly sin. We treat it like it’s a toy when it will kill us.” It reminds me of what the puritans used to say: “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.”
3. The power of God is greater than the power of evil. No matter how powerful sin seems to be, God’s power is greater. While it’s important not to trivialize grief, loss or pain, it is important to know that God’s power is greater than all evil. In the Cross, Jesus defeated sin and death forever. We have a priest who can sympathize with our weakness because he has experienced all the pain and loss imaginable. This gives us great hope and comfort. Where else can we go? He alone has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).
Whether it is by storms, sickness, waves or bullets, death will rear its ugly head in this fallen world. But my prayer is that it would cause us to cling even more tightly to the One who reigns above death and above disaster; the One who is the source of life on earth and life eternal. Pray for those who suffer, not just for comfort now but that we may all know and treasure Christ forever.