It is impossible not to be moved with a sense of compassion for the thousands of lives affected by natural calamities. The relief efforts that flow in their wake, both financial and direct in the form of food, clothing and shelter, demonstrate our common empathy for our fellow humanity, regardless of race, religion or politics. When there is a need, for the most part, people help. Whether it is the hurricanes and floods in Central and North America, to earthquakes in Mexico and Japan, to volcanic eruptions on an Island in Vanuatu, causing the evacuation of thousands of people, including our own church members, to fires in California that have left behind a path of devastation in lives lost and homes destroyed—we can’t help but be moved with a sense of compassion for those suffering at the hand of nature.
Such tragedies like these, testify to the reality of the times in which we are living. Jesus told us what to expect in the last days:
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” Luke 21:25-26.
“And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights….” (Luke 21:11)
But then there is Las Vegas. The massacre of 59 people, and the wounding of over 500 more just doesn’t make sense. How could any human being inflict such devastation upon their fellow human beings? What would drive someone to such a calculated yet senseless act of evil that does nothing but devastate hundreds of innocent lives? Surely there is some cause, some twisted motive? I am sure the powers that be will try to establish the reason.
So far, no sound reason has been found, and perhaps never will be. We can only wonder. But while we may not know why things like this happen, we can be sure that as time goes on, such things will happen:
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be…without natural affection,” or “heartless” as the ESV puts it. (1 Timothy 3:1-3)
Nothing else can explain the tragedies we see inflicted by humans upon humans. Men and women without natural affection inflicting needless suffering on others. We are indeed living in perilous times.
It is in times such as these that God’s people are to shine. Jesus has set us in this world as lights – a city set on a hill – to be seen by all. He calls upon us, as Christians, to let our light shine, no matter how perilous or dark it may be around us. Shining is not difficult. It is the natural result of God’s work within the heart of every repenting, believing soul. “Christ’s Object Lessons” states, “If you have received God’s grace, then the light is in you.” So, don’t hold back.
Remember, the darker the night, the easier it is to see the light. So, in contrast to the evil around us, let’s respond in practical ways to be the light Jesus wants us to be. When natural disasters or “heartless” acts of devastation break upon the world around you, be the first to shine—to give of your means to those who are without, or to reach out in empathy to those who are suffering. Don’t let the calls for assistance weary you or the darkness of human nature discourage you. In this way, your good works for which God has created you for (Eph 2:10), will be a beacon for many to find Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.
We are told that, through practical ministry, “the revelation of His own glory in the form of humanity will bring heaven so near to men that the beauty adorning the inner temple will be seen in every soul in whom the Saviour dwells. Men will be captivated by the glory of an abiding Christ. And in currents of praise and thanksgiving from the many souls thus won to God, glory will flow back to the great Giver.” (COL 420)
~ Paul Chapman