Calamities such as the devastating F-5 tornado that sacked much of Moore, Oklahoma provide Believers opportunities to demonstrate love and support in tangible ways for those who are suffering. Such deep and desperate need is the point about which God's people, Christians, can gather in force to mobilize resources to help those who are homeless, foodless, friendless and clueless about where to turn now and how to begin again. Pray for the people of Moore, give through your church what resources you are willing to give to help, and, if the opportunity arises, go with disaster relief teams (many churches in cooperation with their denominations can provide you such opportunities). There is much that can tangibly be done to help those who are adrift in the whirlwind of loss and suffering.
Whenever a disaster of this magnitude strikes, some immediately begin criticizing and condemning the very people who are hurting. Pray for those who suffer such hardheartedness. Jesus addressed the hasty rush to condemn others during His earthly ministry when some people believed that judgment had befallen some Galileans who had been targeted by divine wrath.
“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-5 ESV).
Of what was Jesus speaking when He talked about a lack of repentance resulting in perishing? He was speaking of the fact that we each are accountable to God for our conduct and we all must repent (turn from sin and self and turn to God). “The wages of sin is death,” the Bible says in Romans 6:23a. It is a short-sighted man or woman who looks on the heart-breaking devastation of another and dismisses it with callous self-righteousness, not realizing that there is a hammer to ultimately fall on the anvil of God’s justice for each of us unless we in faith receive what Christ has done on our behalf as the sacrifice for our sin.
For those of us who have not repented of sin and have not received God’s gift of forgiveness (“the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”, Romans 6:23b), then our situation is terribly grim. Obviously, based on the words that Jesus Himself spoke, we should be stopping in our tracks and reevaluating our lives… repenting, as it were. Any of us could at any moment find our entire lives turned upside down and we could lose everything we value – if everything we value is stuff or popularity or comfort. Building a life on anything that could be taken away at any time is “building on a foundation of sand” such as the one Jesus spoke of in Matthew chapter 7.
Temporal tokens such as money or gadgets or even retirement funds will one day be gone. Popularity and acceptance by others are both all well and good, but living for them is a dangerous pastime and the fickle feelings of others are ultimately pointless pursuits since the only opinion that counts ultimately is that of the One for Whom you were created and must give account.
And even for those of us who know that our eternal destiny has been secured through faith in Jesus and that we are as utterly forgiven as once we were utterly condemned, there is still here much for us to consider. If we our building our lives on Jesus Christ, then we, as Jesus describes it, are building our lives on a foundation of solid rock and nothing, not even a physical death itself, can take from us what we have in Him. This is why, as we help one another in times of trial and trouble, we can point to the Lord and encourage each other with the hope that He is for all who have placed their faith in Him.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 ESV).