Summary: This sermon is a pastoral sermon exploring the question where is God when disaster hits. It was written following the bushfires in Victoria, Australia.
How have you coped with the week?
Early in the week I was wondering if this was a nightmare?
But as the week went on the reality was hitting home.
Already 180 lives lost and coroner has allowed for up to 300 deaths..
A national news reader that I watched daily dead.
A town completely flattened.
Over 1000 homes lost.
Then on the same piece of land some 2300 kms North
People living between Townsville and Cairns have been affected by flooding
Around 3000 homes have been affected
And with on the spot coverage of events
We can’t hide from the destruction,
the faces of despair.
It is beamed into our homes through the televistiona and internet.
This morning when I went to check on the news there was a picture of a grown man in tears as he looked at the area where his house once stood. It looked like dumbfounded tears.
And just about everyone has an opinion about what is happening or should have happened.
And so in the next few moments lets hear also from God and see how he views life when events like this occur.
Lets begin by looking at Isaiah 55:8-9 which says
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
One question that we are often faced with is if God is so loving why do these things happen?
Why do seemingly people get hurt or harmed, whilst obviously evil people get off lightly?
There is no form answer for this in scripture.
And it is important to remember there are many things that will remain a mystery about God.
And whilst we may have many questions not all of them will be answered in the ways we like.
Often we would rather tell God how he should love rather accept his approach to how he loves.
And the the best way to make sense of what is happening
Is not to ignore God but to listen to him.
To worship regularly, read and study his scriptures frequently.
So that we are gaining His perspective on life,
and this means at times allowing Him to open up your mind to a different way of thinking.
Now some people would have you believe that the disastrous events like the fires and the floods are nothing more than God’s judgement on a group of people or the world for a specific sin.
They grab hold of a text like Micah 5, which concludes with
15 I will take vengeance in anger and wrath
upon the nations that have not obeyed me
and Psalm 106:8
18 Fire blazed among their followers;
a flame consumed the wicked.
or parts of Revelation
And there is one major problem with such an approach
Is that it only portrays God as some angry fellow
who hates humanity and only wants to squash and annihilate anyone who is not like Him.
Unfortunately many people have this view of God.
And this includes people in the church and people outside the church.
But such an approach ignores huge slabs of scripture.
It is not the complete picture.
Scripture from both the Old and New Testament demonstrates something different about God, especially during times of suffering.
Lets turn to 1 Kings 19:11-12
11 The LORD said to Eliijah, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Or what we heard earlier from 1 Thessalonians 5:9
9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Leaving people with the view that God is only about judging and destroying is not Christian.
And when we take events of the past week and simply say this is God’s judgement on humanity and nothing else we are misrepresenting God.
It leaves off the essential aspect of Christianity.
Who said, from John 3:16-17
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, f that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."