What Lessons Are Disasters Supposed to Teach Us?

“At that time, some people came and reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And He responded to them, “Do you think that these Galileans were more sinful than all Galileans because they suffered these things? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well! Or those that the tower in Siloam fell on and killed — do you think they were more sinful than all the people who live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well!”” (Lk. 13:1-5)

When Jesus was asked about the problem of suffering through disasters his response turned the issue away from the ‘why’ to the ‘what’. That is, instead of attempting to explain WHY God allows terrible things (like the slaughter of worshipers in the Temple or the deaths of many in the collapse of a tower) to the ‘what’ of our own reaction to disasters.

When something terrible happens- whether it’s caused by a weird accident, a malicious human act, or a natural event, what do we ‘do’ with the fact of that happening? Does it make us remember our own mortality? Does it draw us to repentance and a renewal of life in the presence of God? Does it make us better people? Or do we focus all of our attention on trying to discover why it happened?

We need to admit that there are many things in life that are mysteries. The plan of God is sometimes completely hidden from our eyes and that, frankly, is ok. Our reaction to disasters is the only issue which really matters. Do we rise to the event and by the strength of God endure, or are we destroyed by it? The answer is up to each of us.