Disasters and death
I was brought up on a farm near the town of Forbes in central New South Wales in Australia. In the past week many people had to evacuate their homes in Forbes and other towns due to a flood in the Lachlan River. This flood reached similar heights to the record floods in the 1950s.
In the last few years we have had major droughts, bushfires (wildfires), pandemics, and floods in Australia. People’s lives and livelihood have been devastated and there has been a financial crisis. Disasters like this are unexpected – they can catch us by surprise. The Bible says that disasters are warnings (Appendix).
On the other hand, death is expected. It happens to everyone eventually and it’s a regular occurrence in nursing homes for the elderly.
But there will be no disasters or death in heaven. The Bible says, “He [God] will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Rev. 21:4NLT). This is a poetic way of saying there will be no tears in heaven. So, there will be no pain or regret in heaven. And there will be no nursing homes in heaven!
Today is Thanksgiving Day in the USA. But everyday should be a Thanksgiving Day for believers! The Bible says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Th. 5:18). And, “Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20). Every circumstance that comes our way is from God. Christians can give thanks for everything because God is in control. We give thanks for everything that comes into our lives because it comes by the will of God.
Christians know that a place is being prepared in heaven for God’s people (Jn. 14:1-3). And in the future Jesus will return to the earth in great power and glory to make everything right by judging all evil (Mt. 25:31-46; Rev. 19:11-21).
We look forward to when our sorrow and pain and mortality is replaced with joy in God’s presence forever. Because there will be no disasters or death in heaven.
Appendix: Disasters are warnings
In ancient times it was believed that disasters fell only on those who were extremely sinful. But Jesus taught otherwise: ‘About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too”'(Lk. 13:1-5). The answer was not that they deserved punishment more that the others, as suffering is not directly proportional to sin. Disasters happen to us all. All are sinners who must turn to God or perish in hell. The massacre of the Galileans who had come to Jerusalem to worship and the collapse of the tower weren’t God’s judgement on their sinfulness; they were warnings to all that unless they repented of their sin, they were doomed to eternal punishment in hell. Disasters are not necessarily God’s judgement, but they are warnings of His coming judgement unless we get right with God.
Disasters remind us of our need to be right with God. They remind us that life can be taken away in an instant and there may never be a tomorrow. James warns: “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” (Jas. 4:14). We live in an uncertain world. Disaster and tragedy could strike us at any time. Everything that happens, including disasters, is to bring us to Christ, and make us more like Him. Do we have a right relationship with Him? Live every day as if it will be your last. Those going to sacrifice in Jerusalem didn’t know that would be their last day; those working on the tower of Siloam didn’t know that would be their last day. Likewise, we don’t know if today will be our last. One day that will be true for each of us.
Written, November 2022
Also see: Where is God when disaster strikes?
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