When we face cancer, devastating car wrecks, hurricanes and wild fires like the one wreaking havoc in Hawaii, we must ask questions like this. We need to know the love and presence of God more in the chaos than in the calm. We live in world that has been plagued by destruction since its beginnings. We hear of murder and floods in the first few chapters of the Bible. Famine, crime and storm take lots of lives as the Bible tells its story before Jesus. Once Jesus is on the scene, we hear a lot out of His own mouth about this broken world. He says “In this world you will have trouble…” Jesus is talking about a time when we will be pressed together because of the way the world hates Him. We will be tossed, beaten, kicked out and even killed because of our association with Him. But He tells us to “take heart (because) I have conquered the world!” In another place Jesus talks about the way the world will deteriorate after He goes back to Heaven. He says there will be “wars and rumors of wars…nation will rise against nation…there will be famines and earthquakes…” Then He says this is just the beginning. In other words, it’ll get worse.
I’m not a doom prophet and neither is Jesus. If you take everything He said and lump it all together, this is just a tiny piece. But it is there and it certainly helps answer questions about hurricanes and wild fires. This world was never meant to last. We have a little, bitty perspective on the globe we call home. We see our corner of the world and think “This is it! Our little slice of Heaven!” And when the bottom falls out, we think we’ve been robbed. This world has been broken since the time of the Fall. It never has intended to be our forever home and anything we do to make it permanent will always result in brokenness in the end. That means, for the Jesus person, the cancer diagnosis is not the end. It’s a painful, ugly bunch of news, but for the believer, there is joy in it. For the person whose house is flooded because of Idalia or whose house was consumed by the fires in Hawaii, as unbelievably difficult as those things are, we find comfort there because we know we are not alone in the strife. I know this. I lost my house in a hurricane. I’ve walked with countless believers through house fires. There is a marked difference between someone who knows Jesus and the way they respond verses someone who has no hope and how they respond to tragedy.
Sometimes I believe Jesus leads us through the valley of the shadow of death so we will fear death less. When we brush up against it and find out He is big enough to protect us from its grasp, we trust Him more. When we walk through the fire and the flood and witness His ability to restore our lives on the other side, we trust Him more. The goal is never for us to fall more in love with this broken world.
Doesn’t it make sense for Jesus to put us in places where we learn to love this world less and trust Him more? The goal is always for us to fall more in love with Him and long for the place He is preparing for us more and more.
Heaven is always just around the corner. This life is just a drop in the bucket of eternity. I challenge you to hold your days loosely. Don’t grasp at the time or stuff that fills your halls and heart. Hold it with open hands. If you lose it, you gain an opportunity for Jesus to care for you. Heaven is real and this ain’t it! As ugly and difficult as disasters can be, trust the Only One who can rescue and restore you.
That means, we pray for the storms to stop, but when they don’t, we don’t question God’s ability to care for us. We lean on His proven promise to always care for us. When our friends are caught in the storm, we don’t blast them with Scripture or avoid them until they are free and clear. We do what Jesus does, we walk through the valley with them. We endure with them. We’ve been there. We know He’ll bring Light on the other side.
God is always good and He always does good things. Always.