Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu: Is There Divine Meaning in Natural Disaster?

On one rainy day in Costa Rica, I was overwhelmed as CNN scrolled news about natural disasters on several fronts:

• The earthquake in South Asia taking at least 3000 lives
• Hurricane Katrina’s death toll passing the 1000 mark
• Mudslides washing away an entire village in Guatemala, followed by an earthquake
• The fear of bird flu mutating and invading the human race

Right now, authorities are hoping that the swine flu will not turn into an international pandemic.

This is not the first time we have been met with this type of disaster. In 2005 we awaited the avian influenza, while remembering the 1918–19 Spanish flu which killed 50 million people in 18 months. And “scientists have long forecast the appearance of an influenza virus capable of infecting 40 percent of the world’s human population and killing unimaginable numbers” (“The Next Pandemic?” by Laurie Garrett, Foreign Affairs, July/August 2005, 84:4:3). As death tolls rise, the questions gnaw at my soul. Why all of this apparent mindless, meaningless madness? Is God telling us, our country, our world something specific? Is this the beginning of the end?

On the one hand, I wish I knew final and definite answers. But that requires me to be God Himself. Having been relieved of that privilege and responsibility, my next best option is to seek answers in His final and definite revelation in His Word.

One of the unquestionable causes is original human sin. Sin is rebellion against God. The most radical event in early earth history was humankind’s Fall away from God, when the original humans chose to rebel against Him. That mother-of-all disasters put the earth under God’s curse. Thankfully, God didn’t turn away from his providential care for the human race (or else we wouldn’t be here at all). Sadly, humanity lost immediate, existential relationship to Him. This earth is not heaven, and often feels like hell, for it is groaning, grunting, and growling in futility. Our planet is still paying for mankind’s original departure from the Creator.

We also factor in Satan’s role in random human suffering and death. Satan defied God’s sovereignty —he cannot ever overthrow it—and was cast out of heaven to earth. Our earth began to shudder and continues to tremble.

There is hope, however. Because of the triumph of the Lord Jesus over sin, death, and Satan, we can know that one day God will pull His people out of the suffering, and this quaking earth will destruct. The Sovereign Savior will one day return to rule this earth and to guide the nations with righteousness. In that day, those who have trusted in Him will not have to deal with such terrors as the swine flue and economic uncertainties.

Today, in the face of uncertainties, we have the choice to realize our inability to predict and control and repent before God or to resist Him. People are small, weak, and at the mercy of the elements. Natural disaster calls for humility before God and reminds people to find their permanent security in God alone. Our only hope is to repent and pursue a right relationship with God.

Our planet is quaking, rocking, shaking, and will one day be destroyed. Are you ready to secure your destiny? Even things you may sincerely consider spiritual aids to personal health will only harm in the fires of judgment if you do not have a relationship with the Lord Jesus. If you are not assured of your salvation standing with God, will you contact me about the possibility of personal and eternal hope for you, regardless of your earthly circumstance?

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