Summary: This sermon encourages believers to trust God in the natural disasters. God can be trusted no matter what happens in life.
I went to a nearby hamburger stand by my job on Friday to get some oatmeal. Before entering in I picked up a copy of the LA Times newspaper and on the front was the gory pictures of the Katrina aftermath. As I walked into the hamburger stand to place more order, a man seen the newspaper under my arm and said; “I don’t have to guess what’s on the front page”. I responded, “No you don’t. It’s Katrina.” I sat down waiting for my food and the man started up a conversation with a series of questions and comments about the aftermath of Katrina. Questions like, why did it take so long for help to arrive? Where is our help in the states when we need it? And on and on he went. I listened very carefully to all that was coming out of his mouth to figure out where he was going with this conversation. It didn’t take long before he says; “We need to start listening to Minister Farrakahn because he told that the white man would do whatever he could to try and wipe us out as a people.” At that point I couldn’t take no more and I responded, “This particular event we can’t blame on anybody”. Furthermore, how did this become black against white or white against black?”
No doubt his concern is the concern of millions of people across the country what happened and how did it happened? Understand that natural disasters are just that natural disasters. Rarely can they be blamed on man directly
The Fact of Natural Disasters
September 21, 1989—Hurricane Hugo strikes the southeastern coast of the United States. Over 25 people are killed, and over $10 billion worth of damage results. One month later—October 17, 1989—an earthquake registering 7.1 on the Richter scale strikes the San Francisco Bay area in California. At least 62 people are killed, and damage estimates are placed at well over $1 billion. August 24, 1992—Hurricane Andrew hits three counties in southern Florida. More than a dozen people lose their lives, and damage estimates are set at over $20 billion. A year later, on September 11, 1992, Hurricane Iniki devastates the Hawaiian islands. At least four people die, and damage is set at over $1 billion. In June 1993, huge portions of numerous states along the Mississippi River and its tributaries experienced the worst flooding in their history. Entire cities were covered with water measured not in inches, but in feet. At least 47 people died, and more than 25,000 were evacuated from their homes.
Do these types of natural disasters represent merely isolated, infrequent events? Hardly. Throughout history, man has recorded many such tragedies. In 526, an earthquake hit the country now known as Turkey and left 250,000 dead. A similar earthquake in China in 1556 killed over 830,000 people. Another quake in India in 1737 annihilated 300,000, and quakes in Central China in 1920, 1927, and 1932 killed 200,000, 200,000, and 70,000 people respectively. In 1889, the famous “Johnstown Flood” occurred in Pennsylvania. The dam of the South Fork Reservoir, twelve miles east of the city, burst during heavy rains. Over 2,000 people were killed, and property damage was estimated to be over $10 million. In 1969, Hurricane Camille killed more than 250 people in seven states from Louisiana to Virginia, leaving behind over $1.5 billion in damage. In 1983, Hurricane Alicia struck near Galveston, killing 21 and causing over $2 billion in damage.
It is rare indeed, it seems, for a single generation in a given locale to be spared at least some kind of natural disaster. Without warning, tornadoes sweep down from the afternoon sky and destroy in a moment’s fury what took decades or centuries to build. Floods cover “old home places,” and remove forever any vestige of what were once storehouses of hallowed memories. In a matter of seconds, earthquakes irreparably alter once-familiar landscapes. Hurricanes come from the sea, demolish practically everything in their paths, and then dissipate as if they never had existed. Each time humanity suffers. And each time there are those who ask “Why?” Why them and why now? From “DO NATURAL DISASTERS NEGATE DIVINE BENEVOLENCE?” by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.
An old woman in a devastated village in Southern India’s Tamil Nadu state, wailed: “Why did you God do this to us? What have we done to upset you?” (From Dec. 2004 Tsunami)
On Friday night my wife and I stayed up to watch the 10 o’clock and of course a major part of the news broadcast was about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The news reporter interviewed a man who started lashing out at pastors in Louisiana. Saying things like, “Pastors, where are you your flock needs you now when you needed our tithes on Sunday morning”. I got upset because the pastor’s flock is not the only body who lost everything but that pastor(s) themselves could have lost everything as well. The devastation does not exempt anyone. But after I though about it some more I said to myself, there’s a deeper request that this man has. More than just looking for his pastor I think he’s really asking this one question, “As a Christian, how do I respond to natural disasters like this?