When you set your alarm for the morning, you intend to sleep soundly through the night so that when you awaken to your alarm, you are rested and ready to tackle a new day. However, you’re awaken by an unusual culprit: whether it be the garbage truck making short work of the dumpster outside your apartment, a neighbor’s dog who is looking to scare a squirrel witless or a strange dream that causes you to wake up in a cold sweat, you find your sleep disrupted by an unexpected wake up call.
In the wake of any natural disaster, inevitably the issue of God’s involvement comes up in question. Because of my involvement in the Church, inevitably those question end up being asked of me. In today’s day and age, there are Christians who proclaim every storm is bringing down God’s judgment for all of our sin. I wish those sorts of people would shut their mouths. I do not think they know exactly why God has allowed this or that, and they should remember that we all shall be judged for every word that comes from our mouth.
I do not know if natural disasters are God’s instrument of judgment, but do we win one more soul to the Kingdom of God by pointing the finger? The loss of life, the pain and suffering that is caused by natural disaster is not eased in the hearts of men and women when we claim that God has judged them for their sin. What I can say with certainty is that God uses such circumstances of difficulty, loss, pain and suffering as a wake up call.
God doesn’t want us to suffer. He doesn’t want us to be punished for our sins. Perhaps we should consider what the prophet Ezekiel says, “But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:21-23) The Apostle Paul writes, “God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4)
In Peter, we read that in the end times, people will scoff at Christians because “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” Later on Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some count slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:4, 9)
I think God is giving us a wake up call, whether it is through natural disasters, through the sinking economy or through other personal difficulties. He is shaking us, saying, “It’s time to wake up.” “It’s time to take me seriously.” “It is time to repent.” Is anyone listening? The earth is shaking to wake you up from your spiritual slumber. The hurricanes are a reminder of His coming judgment. The economy is sinking to help us remember that God’s love for us never decreases. Your wallet is empty to remind you that God’s grace never runs out. The drought is there to remind you that His mercy never dries up. Your river is overflowing to remind you that His love is overflowing for you. He’s whispering in your ear today, “wake up” perhaps tomorrow He’ll raise His voice a little. “Wake up!”
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Heb. 3:15)