Hi @Sean_Oesch, I like your answer. It is grounded in the Scriptures. It points out in a kind way the limits of our own understanding. And you applied this to our hearts:
We cannot experience God’s faithfulness in someone else’s suffering, but if we walk with Him can experience it in our own.
@Helen_Tan, I think Sharon has done a marvelous job pointing out many of the ways we can wisely reflect on natural disasters. I appreciate the bigger perspective she provides (it is a wonder there is any life at all!). And that she pinpoints with clarity the real problem: that these events cause people to experience loss and death.
Another direction to go is to compare our options.
We are faced with the shock and mystery and sadness of seeing great human suffering. What meaning is there to find in such a meaningless event?
Well, on the one hand, natural disasters simply illuminate the difference between the strong and the weak. The weak or unfortunate die; the strong or fortunate thrive. This is just how things are. No point crying about it. Toughen up and do your best. As a meme starkly puts it:
From another perspective, sacrificial love is the primary ethic of life. To see how things really are, we need to see God. When God compared his situation in heaven with our situation on earth, how did he respond? Was it, “Thank God (!) we aren’t down there! Look at how those humans suffer with all of their sin. Good thing we’re safely in heaven!”
There’s a very different image at the heart of this reflection: Jesus on the cross.
The true blessing of God is not to have heavenly circumstances, but the character of heaven.
Luke 9:24-26 reads:
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
While we are on this side of eternity, the goal is not to be better off than others, but to be with others to make their lives better. As Christ has loved us, so we are to love others.
Ultimately, I think the answer that God wants us to give to the question of natural disasters is not a philosophical one but a practical one. This is why I’m so grateful that Ravi founded Wellspring International. As he put it,
Love is the most powerful apologetic. It is the essential component in reaching the whole person in a fragmented world. The need is vast, but it is also imperative that we be willing to follow the example of Jesus and meet the need.