A long time ago, I heard of a book authored by Rabbi Harold Kushner, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People". This book begs the question in the first place, are there "good people"? Yet there is a much bigger question, "Why Good Things Happen to Bad People"? I am getting side tracked.
We can expect, the more we live longer, the more hardship we will see and experience, that is for sure.
I am a migrant to Australia, but I grew up in a country often visited by national disasters. To be specific, it is mainly typhoons that flood Manila. Last year, 2009, it got hit by no less than 4 typhoons, displacing millions with many lives lost.
When calamities strike, like the tsunamis and earthquakes we hear in today's news, we are tempted to ask, has God something to do with this?
How should you answer such a question? Would you prefer to say it was just an accident, a fluke of nature? On the other hand, I question, well, why won't God have anything to do with this? Is there something that God is not aware of? Does not God see the sparrow that falls dead to the ground? Why won't God have anything to do with such a thing? Are we not Christians, but then why do we answer such questions like Deists?
Jesus' disciples seemed to ask a similar question about well known disasters of their day in Luke 13.
1There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4Or 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? 5No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
Answering the Pietist in us, I notice Jesus did not say they were worst sinners than the rest and that is the reason for their misfortune. Hence, in a way Jesus is answering Pat Robertson. In other words, you do not have to be extremely vile for bad things to happen to you, being a plain vanilla sinner is enough for you to get the disaster.
But I also see Jesus answering the Antinomian amongst us. He said unless you repent, you will, like them, perish or suffer the same fate. He did not say, it was an accident. God had nothing to do with it, Jesus did not succumb to such speculations. And mind you, labeling such calamities as shear accidents is easier and more politically correct. Telling people to repent is a bit cruel, if you know what I mean.
When we hear of disasters, should they not strike fear that such incidents can happen upon us?For clearly God had something to do with the typhoons, the earthquakes and tsunamis. Should we not ask, why are we spared (at least for now)? Humbling ourselves in front of God, we admit we are worthy of eternal and temporal punishment, we are worthy of the calamities to come upon us and a wonder, why we at the moment are in the position of helping those struck by the misfortune.
While helping our fellowmen, perhaps we should at the same time be repenting towards God and trust in the Lord Jesus that for his sake, we have the favor and mercy of God. Then, perhaps my/our disasters do not have to remain that way.