I just finished recording a few thoughts in regard to recent natural disasters.  It’s a bit long, so take your time.  Thanks for reading.

These past several weeks have been very difficult for us here in Northeast Iowa.  The weather has presented challenges to us all at once more than anyone can remember.  All the problems, from wet fields to flooding to tornadoes and even the cooler-than-normal temperatures, have us all wondering where God has been through all the troubles and suffering.  I have been wondering the same thing, and I thought I would share a few observations that we all need to remember.

 

Remember the Rainbow

First of all, it is common to ask the question, “Why did God let all this happen?”, but that question does not really get us where we need to go.  The answer to the “why” is that God’s majesty and glory might be revealed.  The Bible tells us that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab 2:14) 

The real question we need to ask is this, “What is God saying to us?”  As I consider the nature and personality of Almighty God as He has dealt with His people down through the years, a few thoughts from the Scriptures come to mind.  One source of great comfort comes from the story of Noah.  On a recent detour around the flooded city of Cedar Rapids, I saw a sign that read, “Send for Noah, we need an ark.”  The good news is that we need never worry about worldwide destruction from flooding.  Genesis 9:12-15 says, “God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.”  While it is true that many people are suffering from the flooding, it is also true that the flood only affects a small area as compared to the rest of the country, or even the world.  God is calling us to remember the rainbow and His promise to all the world that it signifies.

 

Repent of Your Sins

Another important message from God to us is that we live in a fallen world, a world that is tainted by the presence of human sin and rebellion against God’s authority.  Romans 8 tells us, “for the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it . . . we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pain of childbirth together until now.”  Our world is all messed up, and we are the cause.  I’m not talking about “global warming” here, but the tragic and universal effects of human sin on all creation.  The message for us here is simply that there is much of life over which we have no control.  God Himself is the Lord and Master of all creation, and we have to take what comes.  Because of this fact, we remember the words of Jesus, “He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”  Think of it this way – if God caused all evil in the world to disappear, where would that leave you and me?  The fact is that every single person on the face of the earth would have to be destroyed because every single person is filthy and evil before the Holy God.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.”  In Isaiah, the Bible says, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” 

The only proper response to this truth is found in one simple word – REPENT!  The fury of nature is nothing compared the righteous retribution God will show to unrepentant sinners on Judgment Day.  If you are a person who has never admitted that you are separated from God by your own, personal sinfulness, then I encourage you to consider your guilt and change your mind.  The word “repent” literally means “to change one’s mind” and consequently, your direction in life.  It’s a Bible word that describes the result of a person’s realizing his guilty condition before God.  God surely loves you, and as long as you live, He lovingly calls out for persons to bow in humility before Himself in repentance.  To put it in terms of the recent disasters, “You think you’ve suffered from a tornado or flood?  You haven’t seen suffering till you have to pay the eternal penalty for your sins in hell!” 

For those who have experienced the new life that comes from repentance and the forgiveness of sins, the message is the same – REPENT!  Church people talk a lot about how bad this world is getting, but the truth is that we ourselves are not helping matters because we are living too much like the rest of the world.  History records that when God’s people repent of their own sins sincerely and humbly that God demonstrates unparalleled favor and power toward them and their communities.  We call it “revival.”  These powerful demonstrations of nature are a clear call from God for all to come clean and seek Him earnestly.  The cure for all sin is the same.  We need to repent.

 

Reconsider Your Priorities

One more thought bears consideration here.  This idea is a bit more subjective, but I think it applies to us in a very real, tangible way.  We Americans have become soft and complacent in the wealth God has entrusted to us.  We have come to believe that God has blessed us for our own benefit and for no one else’s sake.  Moses recognized the dangers of prosperity as he prepared the Israelites to enter the Promised Land.  He said in Deuteronomy 8, “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today . . . Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth’ . . . It shall come about if you ever forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish.  Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the LORD your God.”

America is a nation which has forgotten the Lord and gone after other gods to serve them and worship them.  We are guilty of worshiping the idols of prosperity, possessions, and power.  We are much like small children who fight over toys.  When my own children used to fight over their toys, and now when the grandchildren do the same, we have to take the toys away from them for a time so they can learn how to share.  I cannot help but believe that in some way God is “taking away our toys” so that we can gain a better perspective on what is truly meaningful in life.  Life is much more than new cars and fine houses and fashionable clothing and high tech gadgets.  Americans in general (both Christian and non-Christian) are much like a toddler who loudly protests “MINE!!” in regard to our stuff.  Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Luke 6:38).  The clear call of Scripture to us is to quit asking “What’s in it for me?” and trying to “get all we can, can all we get, sit on the lid and spoil all the rest.”  Instead, we should look for opportunities to be generous; to give of time, talents and treasures.  The challenge is very real, especially since the price of gas and groceries continues to rise, along with everything else. 

The real issue here is simple, yet profound.  Where is our trust?  Is it in the candidates for President?  Is it in the government?  Is it in our investment portfolio?  Is it in anything less than the One, True, Living God who has condescended to becoming a human in order to die as a substitute for our sins?  I love the song I’ve been hearing on the radio lately which says, “Your grace is enough for me.”  Dear friends, until we get to the point where we can say these words to Christ, and truly mean it, the fury of nature, the failures of life, the futility of human nature will continue to bear the bitter fruit of sorrow in our lives.  We must see all of life through the eyes of faith, and know that Jesus knew what He was saying when He said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these [necessities of life] will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).   

Friend, if you’ve read this far, then please indulge me for a few more lines.  The only hope for finding true meaning and purpose in life’s struggles lies in knowing Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior.  If you sense that what I’m saying is true, then Jesus is calling out to you to surrender your life to Him in faith.  You already know that your life is missing something important and, perhaps for the first time, you realize that Jesus is the answer.  The Bible says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).  Will you talk to God right now, admitting that you’re lost in your sinfulness, separated from Him?  Will you confess to Him that you believe Jesus died in your place on the cross and rose from the dead?  Will you commit yourself to live your life for Him from now on?  If you come before Him in honest humility, He will forgive you and give you new life. 

When you experience the cleansing that forgiveness brings, you will know it.  The next step is to tell someone, and get into a Bible-believing church so that you can grow in faith and be encouraged by others who love Christ. 

God is speaking in the storms.  Are you listening?

 

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