Recently, I was asked a question. The blog reader had read the blog The Mighty Rushing Wind, part 1, and asked this question: “Are tornados that tear down houses a breath from God?”
I have struggled with this question, even though I know the theological answer. It is a difficult answer to give to one who is hurting, who has had everything blown away, who has nothing to fall back onto.
So, I turned to Dr. R. C. Sproul and his teaching series “The Hard Sayings Of Jesus”.
When tragedy strikes, people are frequently stunned into asking important questions that they have not thought about for a long time. We have seen this in recent years, especially related to terrorism. Who could forget the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 that destroyed buildings and killed thousands of people? We also have seen horrible natural tragedies, such as the Great East Japan earthquake of 2011 that created a tidal wave and ended up killing nearly 16,000 people. People see tragedies such as these and ask questions such as: “Where was God in this?” or “Did these people do something to deserve such a tragedy?”
Men and women asked the same questions in the first century as we see in today’s passage.
“Those eighteen whom the tower in Siloam fell and kill 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 13:4-5
Jesus makes reference to two horrible things that happened in His era. On one occasion, Pilate attacked some worshippers and mixed their blood with the animal sacrifices they were offering. See Luke 13:1. This was an act of deliberate evil on Pilate’s part. The other event Jesus mentioned is non deliberate: the tower in Siloam fell on eighteen people, crushing them. See Luke 13:4. In both cases, Jesus knew the temptation for people was to ask what the victims did that was so bad to deserve such tragic ends. He knew the people would assume that they were somehow better than those who were dead.
Jesus used the opportunity to show the people that they were asking the wrong questions. Yes, there is a broad connection between all sin and suffering in that there is pain in this world only because Adam fell. But the Scriptures are quite clear that while suffering and sickness may sometimes be due to a person’s sin, that is by no means always the case. See John 9:1-3. The real question is why such suffering does not happen more often, since we are all sinners and deserve nothing but judgment. See Romans 1:18-3:20. All suffering is an occasion to examine one’s heart.
The real question is not: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Rather, the key issue is “Why do good things happen to bad people?” Even the best of us has sinned against our infinitely holy God, so we deserve nothing more than divine wrath. The Lord is gracious beyond measure to us, and we should use that grace as an opportunity to look for sin in our hearts and repent.
Father, forgive me when I have sinned against You; when I have refused to do that which You require; when I have taken matters into my own hands and failed to let You act your own time. Father forgive I pray through Your beloved Son, Jesus, and it is in His name that I pray.