With Tragedy All Around Us, Is God Trying to Get Our Attention?

Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California and Harvest Orange County in Irvine, California, shares the Gospel with a sold-out crowd of 19,000 for Harvest America at the American Airlines Center and Victory Park in Dallas, Texas, Oct. 5, 2014.
Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California and Harvest Orange County in Irvine, California, shares the Gospel with a sold-out crowd of 19,000 for Harvest America at the American Airlines Center and Victory Park in Dallas, Texas, Oct. 5, 2014. | (Photo: rever Hoehne for Harvest Ministries)

What is going on in our world right now?

We had Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma. Some have called the latest, "Irmageddon." Add to this, we have new threats almost every day from the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un to destroy us with nuclear weapons.

Why is God allowing all of this to happen?

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Is He trying to get our attention?

We could also ask, "Why is there suffering in the world?" and "What happens after we die?" These questions are not new to the 21st century or even the 20th or 19th centuries. In fact, these were questions people were effectively asking in the first century, during the time of Christ himself.

In John's gospel, chapter 9, we find a story of a blind man who was healed by Jesus. In addition to receiving his sight, he also became a believer. We've heard that seeing is believing. But in his case, believing was seeing, because he saw things he had never seen before – not just the faces of friends and family or the beauty of God's creation.

Because he saw Jesus, this man saw spiritually as well. He discovered the real purpose of life. In fact, because Jesus was the first one he saw when he was healed, he saw everything else in its proper perspective.

When Jesus and his disciples encountered this man, the disciples raised this question: "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (verse 2 NIV). That brings us to another often-asked question: Why does God allow suffering? This is basically what the disciples were asking.

We can take that further and ask why there are babies born with disabilities, why there is war, why there are terrorist attacks, hurricanes and natural tragedies?

Why? Why? It goes on and on.

Some people who claim to be atheists say they have come to this conclusion after careful study. There may be a few examples of that, but I've found that people generally end up as atheists because something traumatic happened to them.

Thus, they had to find a belief system, or lack thereof, that would help them deal with the pain they've had to face.

In the classic statement of this problem, either God is all-powerful, but he is not all-good and therefore doesn't stop evil; or, he is all-good but is not all-powerful, and therefore he can't stop evil. The general tendency is to blame God for all the evil and suffering in the world, to essentially pass all the responsibility to him. When people do this, there is nothing rational about it. They're upset, so they're placing the blame on God.

In a broad sense, all suffering is a result of sin. However, I'm not suggesting that someone who was born with a disability did something bad to deserve it. Not at all. Suffering, aging, and death are all a result of sin. It affects all of us because of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It was never God's plan for us to get sick. It was never God's plan for us to get old. Because of the curse of sin, it affects me. It affects you.

You might say, "If I had been in the Garden, I never would have eaten the forbidden fruit."

Of course, you would have.

Have you ever sinned? If you're honest, you'll say yes. You would have responded to temptation just like they did. But if Adam and Eve had not sinned, the curse would not have come. But because they sinned, the curse did come.

We're told in the book of Romans, "When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned" (5:12 NLT).

Why did God make it that way? Why didn't God create us so we wouldn't sin? It's because God doesn't want a bunch of robots. He wants us to love him because we choose to love him. But with the choice to say yes also comes the choice to say no. Free will is our greatest blessing and, in some ways, our worst curse.

There are times, though, when sickness or suffering can come as a result of sin. There can be cause-and-effect in some instances. In John, chapter 5, we read of a paralytic man who was healed. Jesus said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you" (verse 14 NIV).

Sometimes God will allow something traumatic to wake us up. This was the case with Jonah. God told him to go to Nineveh and preach because God wanted to lay down the biggest revival in human history. God wanted to do this through Jonah, but he said no. Jonah didn't want the Ninevites to repent because they were wicked. But God always has the last word.

You know the rest of the story. A storm came while Jonah was on a boat headed in the opposite direction. Jonah was thrown overboard and then swallowed by a great fish, which eventually vomited him onto the shores of Nineveh. Finally, reluctantly, Jonah did what God had called him to do. The result was the greatest revival in human history.

Maybe something has happened to you lately that has caught your attention, and you don't know why it is happening. Could it be that God has allowed this in your life as a wake-up call?

This man who was born blind had his world rocked by Jesus. In a moment, everything changed for him. God is still in the life-changing business. The same Jesus who changed this man can change you. He can forgive you of all your sin. What you need to do is come to him.

So, why are all these bad things happening?

Simple answer. . . I don't know.

Is God trying to get our attention with natural catastrophes and threats of war from those who want to destroy us?


But I know this: God loves us.

With all the racial tension after Charlottesville, we saw people of all races and backgrounds working together in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. I'm sure we will also see it when Hurricane Irma has done its work. This is a time to pray together and for each other. It's also a time to work together and love one another.

But most importantly, it's time to believe in and follow Jesus Christ.

Originally posted Sept. 9 at Greg's Blog

Greg Laurie is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, with campuses in Riverside and Irvine, California.

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