Question: How could a loving God allow Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Irma, and other disasters like it to cause so much pain and suffering to people in this world?

Luke 21:28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

It’s an excellent and timely question that has a Biblical answer, though an answer that has never satisfied the secular world!  But that shouldn’t surprise us because rarely do the answers of the Bible satisfy our world.  Unfortunately, the church struggles with this question and questions like it, too, because the appearance of destruction, death, and powerful hurricanes causing such painful things, seems to conflict with God’s attribute of love.  This is what we call a paradox, something that looks inconsistent with God’s attributes, but when reviewed and studied, we find isn’t inconsistent at all.    

So, when Jesus says in Luke 21:28, “When these things…”, you have to read the verses prior to verse 28 to find out what he’s talking about.  I’ll merely summarize his thoughts prior to verse 28 in that chapter.  Jesus says…

1.       Many will come claiming to be the Christ whom they shall follow…, don’t listen to them, you have the Word of God that testifies about me.

2.       Nation will rise up against nation

3.       Earth quakes, famines, and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven

4.       Wide persecution of believers and even imprisonment and death for Christians

5.       “All people will hate you on account of me”

Luke 21:28  When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Now, these “things” that Jesus refers to in the previous verse have been happening for the 2,000 years since he’s been on earth.  Maybe there’s been cycles of violence and heavier natural catastrophes than other periods of history, but all of it has been around to varying degrees.  Jesus merely wants every generation of people, especially Christians, to be vigilant of his return because it can come at any time.  In fact, the apostles wrote and talked as though it could have been even during their time-period. 

But all the evil, which has come into this world has come because of sin.  When Adam and Eve, committed sin against God, they brought sin and death and all the destructive forces of nature into this world.  But the good news is that God has redeemed us from this world.  When he sent his only begotten Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, he sent him to die for our sins that we might be redeemed from this world of sin.  This is the message of the gospel that we and all believers are to share to the ends of this earth. 

Well, God knows better than anyone, that even Christians get confused and distracted along the way in this life as we travel towards heaven.  So, the evil brought into this world by human sin, including natural disasters, serves a dual purpose for the people of this world.  For the Christian, Jesus says, it serves the purpose of reminding us of where our true home is – with him in heaven.  For the unbeliever and the fence-rider who is unsure of what he/she believes, it is a forceful reminder to them to wake up, and realize the time is soon coming when they will stand before God’s throne to give an account of their life.  Of course, without Christ as your substitute for sin, there is no accounting for sin.  That’s why God wants the world to wake up to the realization of what he has done for them in Christ Jesus. 

Look at what happened at 911.  A great, catastrophic evil, caused by sinful man, was ultimately allowed by God to encourage his church on earth to flee to him for refuge, and we did!  That’s always a good thing.  But another good that came out of that evil, was that many in this country ran back to the church for answers and for refuge from this great evil in the world.  Unfortunately, the running back to the church for answers was only short-lived, as many quickly fell away thereafter. 

As Christians, let us never forget Jesus’ encouragement to us no matter what we see or experience in this world contaminated by sin and evil – “Lift up your heads, for your redemption is drawing near.”  If Harvey and Irma have done just that for you, then God be praised! 

May God richly bless your day and week! 

Pastor Matthew P. DeNoyer

Just an FYI: Next week Wednesday evening (September 20), we begin our 9-week Bible series on Peter’s first epistle.  Food and age-appropriate programs will be available for your children.  Great opportunity for a date night with your spouse as the food will all be provided for you that evening.  Begins at 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm.