Do you know this word? The dictionary defines it as:
"An event that brings terrible loss, lasting distress, or severe affliction; a disaster" (www.dictionary.com)
As you know, the earthquake in Haiti was a calamity. An evil catastrophe of nature that is responsible for death toll numbers that are beyond shocking and impossible to get our minds and hearts around. The images coming from the already impoverished nation crush our spirits and even disorient the foundations of our worldviews.
But…having our worldviews disoriented is not always a bad thing. Calamities change our perspective and drop us to our knees. Disasters refocus our priorities and more clearly define our vision for life. The earthquake and subsequent loss of life, disease and homelessness should at the front of our prayer line, and most of all, we beg God to empower the gospel to go forth and bring millions into His Kingdom.
I would encourage one more thing…
Remember that calamity is always a possibility coming our way. It's easy to feel safe when you don't live near a fault line or along the hurricane belt, but trust me…that feeling is a false sense of security. Disaster can strike anytime, anywhere, and as someone once said, "Nobody gets out of life alive." That should cause us to think about issues more important than physical disasters.
That is why the Bible is abounding in warnings about a spiritual calamity, including a very clear admonition from Jesus Christ:
"The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him" (John 3:35-36).
Another version of the Bible phrases that last sentence this way:
"All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that."
Jesus is crystal clear in His warning of imminent calamity for those who haven't trusted in Him as Savior. The original word for "judgment" actually means "punishment," which is why life without Jesus Christ really is a repeated cycle of "angry darkness" from the God of the universe.
Am I trying to scare you? Yes! God's wrath is something we all should be afraid of, but there is great news for those who have trusted Christ for forgiveness:
"Because God's children are human beings - made of flesh and blood - the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying" (Hebrews 2:14-15, NLT).
The Bible makes it clear that God loves us, but because He is holy, His righteous anger against sin rests on those who refuse to accept the free gift of salvation that cost Jesus His life. But what amazing news that believers are "set free" from the "fear of dying"!
In reality, you can divide the entire human race into two parties and two destinies. There are those who have humbled themselves before God and realized they can't be good enough to please God and enter heaven. They have kneeled at the foot of the Cross of Jesus and trusted Him alone for salvation.
Their destiny is forgiveness, restoration, and paradise.
Then there are those who run from God, even though His presence is seen and felt as clearly as a hot sun in mid-July. They refuse to let go of their pride, because they have placed themselves on the throne of their lives.
Their destiny is calamity, despair, and punishment.
Ironic, isn't it, that it takes a heart-wrenching catastrophe to wake us up to the real nature of life on this fallen planet? Even more ironic is the fact that many Christians are more willing to jump on a plane and fly to Haiti than they are to bring up the gospel and the question of eternal destinations with their friends.
Pray for Haiti and give till it hurts, but let this horrible tragedy remind you that there are spiritual earthquakes happening everyday in the lives of your friends who don't know Jesus. You are the relief worker called by God to share the gospel and rescue them from God's wrath.
Are you ready for the rescue mission?
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Next time you're in a conversation with your friends about Haiti, bring up the idea of calamity and how the Bible warns about the spiritual kind. Ask your friends if they'd like to know how to avoid a spiritual calamity. Continue to pray for opportunities to share the gospel especially in the wake of the earthquake, because this event causes many to think about the big issues in life.
Accelerant: Feed the Fire
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him" (Matthew 24:42-44).
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3).
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare (2 Peter 3:10).