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Kilauea Volcano – When Tragedy Strikes
On April 30, the floor of the Hawaiian Kilauea Volcano collapsed, forcing an underground flow of lava, causing the biggest earthquake and eruptions on the island in more than four decades. The southeastern part of Hawaii is being devastated right now with mega-tons of lava flow, clouds of ash, and deadly plumes of methane gas, chasing thousands from their homes and livelihood.
We can’t imagine the horrors, nor the hopelessness being felt by those whose lives are being turned upside down at this very moment by forces they can’t control . . . or by those whose children were gunned down in Santa Fe, Texas or devastated by Hurricane Harvey last year in Texas. All of us live in an uncertain world where safety is an illusion. Any of us could be next!
Question: So Where is God in the Midst of Tragedy?
The simple answer is that He’s always there – even in the midst of tragedy. For those of us who know God, we know God never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5) and that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. (Matthew 5:45). No matter your problem, God is never surprised. God never says “oops”, to the extent that not one sparrow will fall to the ground without God knowing it (Matthew 10:29). And His Promise to those who believe in Him and live for His Purpose (to seek and save the lost) is that He’ll make everything work for good, even the bad stuff (Romans 8:28).
The confusion comes in our view of good versus God’s view of good. Our view is on the temporal while God’s is on the Eternal. When we fail to understand that God uses tragedy to get our attention and bring people to Him, we allow tragedies to capture our attention and rob us of our joy. But nothing is more powerful than an exuberant, full of faith Christian in the midst of tragedy.
The question for Christians is not, “Where are you God,” but “What are you up to God?” The only eternally significant question is: How can we use our tragedies to bring more people into the Kingdom? When we do that, God takes care of the rest!
Two things happen to Christians in tragedy:
- Tragedies draw us closer to God. When we’re challenged by things we can’t control, we become smaller as he becomes larger, our dependence on God becomes obvious, our appetite for His Word is enlarged and prayer becomes our lifeline.
- Tragedies draw attention. When bad things happen, we automatically attract the attention of those around us, and whole-hearted faith in the midst of tragedy leads everyone to Jesus. Even better: you have wholehearted faith when you know God is going to turn your tragedy into good because you’re living for His Purpose: To seek and save the lost. (Romans 8:28). This is the cycle of victorious living.
How to Inject These Truths into Everyday Conversations:
Everyone knows the time to prepare for a storm is before the storm and that storms in life will hit every one of us sooner or later. Each of us has the choice of (1) living in the fear of being overwhelmed by tragedy when it strikes or, (2) living without fear, knowing God is always there to help us overcome tragedy.
When everyday discussions turn to disasters like the loses caused by Mt. Kilauea, it’s easy to insert words like, “That’s when it pays off to be a Christian”. When asked why, it’s even easier to explain that Christians killed tragically are immediately celebrating their arrival in Heaven . . . to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (II Corinthians 5:8), and that tragedies allow God to demonstrate His faithfulness to His followers and those watching, so they will know that God is real and what we suffer now is nothing compared to the Glory He will reveal to us later. Romans 8:18
Only when we live our lives for His Purpose and not our own, can we echo the words of Paul: For me to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil 1:21), and really mean it!
Reference Quotes and Scriptures:
“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of faith is the end of anxiety.”
“Faith is trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”
“God will not allow any troubles to come upon us unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.”
“To learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.”
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
I Peter 1:7
Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the Heavenly Prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.