Natural Disasters: Natural Responses
Natural disasters come with frequency in our world. Hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones, tsunamis, volcanoes, typhoons, earthquakes, famines, droughts, pestilence and plagues are all part of living in a fallen world that heaves brokenness. These disasters all impact people regardless of race, nationality, religious affiliation, social status or political affiliation. Right now, the rains following hurricane Harvey are wreaking havoc in Texas. We pray, give and yearn to help. They struggle, suffer and strive to survive. People often ask “Why?” There aren’t always easy teleological or theological answers to the why question. Science gives us some good handles on the cosmological reasons. But, even science has not figured out how to abate macro-aggression of this temperamental planet.
Jesus told us that the rain falls on the just and unjust or the good and evil or the righteous and wicked, whichever translation you prefer (Matthew 5:45). Bad stuff happens to us all. The “why” question is simple in some ways and more complex in others. But, the “what” question is always most germane and important for us. We can control what we do and how we respond. The context of these words of Jesus was for us to love our enemies and pray for those who mean us harm. He followed with the expression of love taking us to do the sacrificial and give to others without expecting in return. The context of Jesus’ words was telling us to love everyone in every circumstance without trying to get something back. People who don’t like us need love. People who ask us for help need that same love. And, we should give it without looking for something in return. He was clear on that.
Bad things happen to us all. Sometimes people are innocent victims of tragedy. Sometimes they might be less innocent. It does not matter to us. It was not Jesus’ concern or point. Their pain does matter to Jesus and us. When disaster strikes, no matter whether it is natural or not, our natural response would be to open our hearts in prayer, sacrificial giving and a willingness to walk a mile or two with those who are suffering. That should always be our natural response to natural disaster.