This Lenten season has been punctuated with tragedy in my state. In the middle of the night, when many were sleeping sound in their beds, a tornado ripped through fifty miles of Tennessee. Some were awakened by the alerts on their phone or calls from family, barely making it to safety. Others missed the warnings.
Everything changed in a moment.
I was touched by a newscaster who was interviewed about his coverage of the event. He said, “every person talked about God.”
What happens when tragedy strikes?
Does God become part of a person’s vocabulary until everything returns to normal, or is it a lasting change due to the reminder that life is short on this earth and eternity is long?
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, and some Pharisees were pressing him for answers on when the kingdom of God would come. Here they were, standing face-to-face with the Son of God, and they were still looking.
Jesus told them it would come as a surprise. In the meantime, there would be other surprises to keep them alert and prepared. There had been events like that before Christ even came on earth:
- The flood.
- The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
- The tower of Babel.
- Invasions of enemy nations.
- Illness and plagues.
Stuff like this had been happening for centuries, as people just kept eating, drinking, marrying, buying, selling, planting and building.*
Does that mean we shouldn’t be living normal lives? Of course not.
It does mean that we need to be living alert lives.
We might escape tragedy, but no one will escape the final surprise: The return of Christ.
The Apostle Paul wrote the church about this, when he said:
You know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.*
Do world events or natural disasters shake you or lead you into despair? Then be aware that the final surprise means even worse for your life. However, if you are firmly rooted in Christ, nothing can shake you — natural disasters, war, plagues or any earthly trials, because you are secure for that Final Day.
He is coming. I don’t know when, but I am ready. Are you?
Grace and Peace
*See Luke 17:20-37.
*1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, 6-10 (NIV).