I want to start this blog off by confirming that the words I want to pray are indeed over the tragic events that took place this week by a relentless tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. My prayers and heart go out to the families out there who have lost love their loved ones, homes, and fragments of their lives.
And it hasn’t been long yet, but I have already heard some doubts even among some Christians expressed about the meaning of these kinds of trageties and the way that we are supposed to express our emotions.
I want to start off in explaining why I believe so strongly that rock solid confidence in the Sovereignty of God is the key to finding peace in the chaotic short times of this life.
In the story of Job, Satan makes his way before the Lord and taunts God saying that he has been walking to and fro upon the earth. The Lord confronts Satan by pointing out Job who has upheld righteousness and obedience throughout his life and resisted evil. Job 1:6-12 says:
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Soon after this, Job finds out from several different servants that his family and all of his wealth has been swept away from under him. A couple servants claimed that it was a natural disaster and others said it was an army of Chaldeans (idol worshipers).
I think a lot of us today have such a hard times accepting that a “good” God would allow these terrible events to take place and become bitter. There are others who just excuse it as the devil who did it in order to hold bitterness against other’s sin. There are others who would even pretend to show compassion and yet avoid the entire theological issue altogether.
But in spite of all different ethnic, religious, financial, and personal type backgrounds, these tragedies change the lives of the people that they effect forever.
I want to affirm that the reason that natural disasters, illnesses, plagues, famines, and deaths happen is still the same as it was since Genesis 3 happened. As it says in verse 17:
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
Because of the distance between man and God of the tree in Eden, even the ground was cursed with sin. That means that the natural flow of nature was reversed. Things that grew and bred life were reversed into an opposite flow into growing only death. So instead of growing more fruitful in the knowledge of an eternal God, we were cursed to grow older and weaker until the point of death. And Genesis 3:17 confirms that even the earth took upon this nature. In Ephesians Satan is called the prince of the power of the air. Meaning he controls the air of this earth in it’s constant spin of death.
Wow, that doesn’t sound like an encouraging case to believe and trust in the Sovereignty of a good God. But it is the foundation. The tree of Eden was the set back, but the tree of Calvary was the complete conquering of the nature of this world. The reset of everything that went wrong on that day in Eden’s garden was made right the day after the night in Gethsemane’s garden.
Genesis 3:15 says:
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.
This offspring of Eve who was predicted to crush the head of the serpent while only having his heal bruised was Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.
He lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father, the life that we could never live in the bondage of sin.
Jesus Christ reversed the effects of sin and bondage on the Cross for all who would hide their hopelessly bound lives under the accomplishment of His victorious life. For those who would pick up their cross and follow Him. For those who would eat of His flesh and drink of His blood. For those who would lose everything to have Him live through them. Does this take back Satan’s rule on earth and mean health, wealth, gain, and prosperity on earth like heaven. Certainly not!
Our prayer is that God’s will would be done in our lives on this earth as it is in heaven on a daily basis. But Satan is not any more off the leash today than he was in Job’s era.
To expect and claim perfect health, wealth, and prosperity in this life is not only to put a Holy God in your debt with what He already owns, but also to engage in all kinds of idolotry: stuff over God. God is who we desire with every breath, not His stuff.
This is a topic to be touched with great care, but it needs touching in this blog.
No, this earth is still cursed. Christ did not come on the earth to what His servant David did in Samuel’s era, but He came to do something far greater: to prepare a harvest in a dying world for those who would dare to take part in the next.
After this earth is done and gone the end of Revelation is clear that we are not just going to float away with wings and a halo, but that there is going a to be a new heaven and a new earth. So this isn’t just heaven, but it’s a new earth that unlike the last one, has a perfect nature that does not whither with old disasters, plagues, famines, and deaths. This new earth will be something that our wildest imaginations cannot fathom. Our purpose now is to be fishers of men for this harvest.
So I am beginning to wrap up what I am pointing to about God’s Sovereignty. The reason that I believe that God uses the most hideous disasters that give us such a distaste is because His plan is far greater than ours. He proved that the ugliest tragedy could not hold Him down on the Cross. So I am confident that no natural disaster, sinful bond, bloody battle, sickening plague, or natural death itself could ever hold off His plan.
To those who think that they should be allowed to understand God’s plan for their lives only need to look up at the stars at night, trillions upon trillions of galaxies trillions and trillions of light years away and think, “The size of this beauty and it’s distance is small compared to the size of God’s plans.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 says:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
It’s not that God does not enjoy revealing His plans to us, but that our minds and hearts are too small to even conceive of them. Yet when we submit ourselves to Christ in obedience we have the honor of being a part of those plans by His grace!
A favorite song of mine is by Jason Gray is titled “Nothing Is Wasted.” Part of song goes:
What if every tear you cry will seed the ground? What joy will grow!
We cannot understand the massive plans that God holds for the lives of this world. We are encouraged with the promises of God that He hears every cry of distress, feels every broken heart, knows every crippled life, wipes every streaming tear, loves every thirsty soul.
He is beyond us, but wants nothing more than to know us intimately. We must place our trust in Him and bet our lives on Him. Even now He is preparing a great place for His suffering children in a house where their are many mansions. (John 14:2-3)
“Oh, Lord God, we cannot even begin to understand the meaning of all of the brokenness that floods across the families of Oklahoma who have lost their loved ones, and even large fragments of their lives. We trust today that you have eternal plans for the horrific events that break parts of our lives that we love and can never behold again until the day that you welcome us home. We trust that you will use our tears to seed the ground for a harvest that will grow and never die. We trust that you are Sovereign even over the wicked powers of the air and the ground that has been cursed. We trust our lives in Christ and His finished work on the Cross who proved that He could swallow every last drop of that curse and resurrect to say ‘It is finished!’
“And so we pray this day that you will give us our daily bread and that your kingdom will come and your will be done on earth today through the broken lives and hearts of those involved in Oklahoma’s natural disaster, as it is in heaven.”
“Because you are worthy of all honor, glory, power, wealth, wisdom, and dominion forever!”
“You are more powerful than the violent winds that swept away so many lives relentlessly across homes in Oklahoma. Because your Son, Oh Father in Heaven, allowed His body to be broken by the airs of the this world. But He proved that He holds authority over them, and so now, by your grace, we no longer live under the authority of death, but by the one who defeated it.”