Our Attitude Towards Natural Disasters
As early as the 1960s Mother Basilea had drawn our attention to the growing frequency of natural disasters. She saw them as preliminary events. Over the years she sounded the call to repentance. Above all, she prayed, encouraging believers to do the same and to prepare their hearts in the light of impending judgment (see Matthew 24).
When in 1995 a flood hit one of our foreign branches, swamping part of their property, she helped us to find the right perspective. This proved to be a key experience for us in view of catastrophes that have since affected various parts of the world — or are yet to come. At that time she shared with us :
“Many natural disasters are coming upon our world. Any moment they may strike…What we are seeing at this time is God reaching out to us through judgments that warn us of the beginning of the apocalyptic age… Holy Scripture says, ‘Does evil befall a city, unless the Lord has done it ?’ (Amos 3 : 6 RSV). But we also read, ‘He does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men’ (Lamentations 3 : 33 RSV). This speaks of the Lord’s grief even in judging.”
The Bible clearly sees a direct connection between sin and all kinds of calamities. Consider, for example, Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple : When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray… and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, then hear from heaven… When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew… whatever disaster or disease may come, and when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel… then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act 1 Kings 8:35-39 NIV …
Unless God has given a prophetic insight, we should not presume to say : ‘This is God’s judgment for such and such a reason.’
What, then, should our attitude be when calamity descends upon us as a people and we don’t understand why ? In the face of disaster we are to humble ourselves under the sins of our age, in which our own are included. Daniel 9 gives us guidelines.
Daniel was not personally to blame for the destruction of Jerusalem. But he does not sit in judgment over others. One with his people, he shares the blame for sin, confessing, ‘We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled ; we have turned away from your commands and laws… O Lord, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you’ (Daniel 9 : 5, 8 NIV). He humbly acknowledges the rightness of God’s dealings.
We are the ones who have sinned ! This is the confession Jesus is waiting to hear from us, as we can see from His reaction to specific calamities in His day, such as the Roman massacre of Galileans and the collapse of the tower in Siloam : ‘Unless you repent you will all likewise perish’ (Luke 13 : 5 RSV). Jesus does not condemn the victims. Rather, He challenges the rest of the population, who were not personally affected, to repent, humbly confessing personal and national guilt…
Melody only – no text
Recently I came across something the Lord had shown me nearly forty years ago. At the beginning of the end times God would raise up souls to lament with Him and bring Him comfort.
This group of mourner-comforters would have all the qualities we need today. Before the anguish of God reaches its peak, we need to pray that these qualities will become ours. These souls do not just respond to God’s judgment – with their whole being they are a response. They never lose confidence in the love of God.
They will share God’s anguish (Genesis 6 : 6 RSV) for a morally and physically polluted world, for a world of contaminated soil and water, of depraved minds, stifled consciences and blaspheming tongues. But they will also grieve over their own sins as no previous generation. Because they empathize with God, they can genuinely mourn over what they have done to God.
These mourner-comforters will lament for the multitudes on the road to hell. But when they grieve for the lost or for those hit by disaster, they weep with a priestly heart, just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem when His city did not recognize the hour of its visitation (Luke 19 : 41-44 RSV). Even while suffering themselves from the effects of divine judgment, they will join in the song raised by the heavenly hosts at the throne of God :
Text: Excerpt from “Sown in Weakness – Raised in Glory” by M. Basilea Schlink
First two songs: from “My Father, I Trust You” by M.Basilea Schlink
© Sept 2017 Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, USA