I’m sure most of us have watched with near disbelief the news of the effects of devastating floods that engulfed towns and taken lives across Queensland this week. No one could have anticipated the so-called inland tsunami in Toowoomba, nor the flooding of Brisbane. It was shocking to see land, houses, cars and people simply swept away in the torrents.
In the face of such tragedy we can easily say, “I am not affected; who cares. It’s just another natural disaster;” turn over and go back to sleep. Yet, I’m sure we were driven to pray. Many of our fellow Aussies are in great trouble right now and we cry out to the Lord to watch over and protect our nation. Some of us will also give. It is good to see Australian Baptist Ministries (BUA) opening its National Disaster and Relief Fund to channel specific giving to local Queensland Baptist Churches and their care initiatives.
What these disturbing natural disasters remind us is that we have little control over the circumstances of life. We can’t control the weather or the economy. We can’t control what other people say about or do to us. They also raise again questions like, “Does God control natural disasters?” and “If God is behind such disasters, how can such a God be either just or loving?”
Despite what many believe, that poverty, disease, and natural disasters are the just punishment of a righteous God, Jesus taught otherwise. In his famous Sermon on the Mount, he urged people to look beyond the surface of circumstance to see God differently. Rain, natural disasters, and the weather don’t discriminate between good and bad people (Matthew 5:44-45). Jesus taught that God is exactly the opposite to the expectations of many people. God loves and cares for all.
The prophet Isaiah also saw this hundreds of years earlier when he endeavoured to comfort the people of his day with the assurance rather than seeing the hand of God in every misfortune, they should be assured of God’s presence guiding them through the eye of any storm. Isaiah writes, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:2); a very apt verse for our brothers and sisters in Queensland.
It is the reality and good news of God’s love that inspires Christians not to wonder what flood victims may have done to bring the wrath of God upon themselves, but instead join in bringing comfort and relief to the afflicted. So let’s be diligent in our prayers and our giving for the many people facing uncertain futures today – that in the midst of their misfortune they may discover a God who cares and understands.
What do you think? I would really value your comment.
Stephen L Baxter