There has been an increase of natural disasters around the world. We heard about the floods in China, France, Germany, India, Macedonia, Mexico, Pakistan, Vietnam and USA. In Canada, Fort McMurray was not only devastated by wildfires that sent more than 80,000 people fleeing from the city but also hit by flooding from heavy rain. Southern California is still battling the wildfires that are spreading to Montana. Wildfires are sweeping southern France, Portugal and southern Spain. And now southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi are being flooded.
Some people say that God uses natural disasters to punish people. I don’t believe so. In my opinion, God uses natural disasters to wake us up. We have become so engrossed in our worldly pursuits that we have no time to think about our true purpose of life on earth. Thus God has to use natural disasters to make us realize the transience of our earthly life:
… However, I also speak a language which is loud enough that it cannot be ignored…. at first in the form of all kinds of tragic events which should show every person the transience of earthly happiness and worldly possessions…. (The Word of God, Proclamation 7074)
Soon it will become obvious to you how transient everything is that belongs to the world, because you will hear more and more often about destruction by the forces of nature, about all kinds of accidents and disasters and the unexpected deaths of many people…. And no one knows whether and when they might have to suffer the same fate, no one knows when their last hour will come. Yet each person knows that they cannot take anything along into eternity…. Therefore they should let up in their earthly striving, in their chasing after all sorts of earthly possessions, for when the hour of death arrives they must leave everything behind… (The Word of God, Proclamation 7475)
Whether we like it or not, our worldly happiness and hard-earned material possessions can be lost in the blink of an eye. We are blessed if natural disasters force us to rethink our priorities in life. We are doubly blessed if natural disasters bring us closer to our neighbour. We are triply blessed if natural disasters bring us back to God.
As for those of us not affected by natural disasters, we must pray and ask for God’s mercy on the less fortunate. May they receive the help and support they need from God.