When tragedy strikes, don’t miss your opportunity.

Often, we wonder what to think when something like the two recent hurricanes bring such tragedy to so many people in so many forms. One of the questions asked is, “What does God have to do with it all?”

Unbelief often defiantly states,” If there is a God, how can he let such suffering happen?”

Even real Christians may wonder how God fits into all this. Are these things the work of Satan? Did he get the upper hand this time? Is God helpless to prevent such things? Is God punishing people for their sins? Is nature an uncontrolled collection of forces that goes haywire once in a while? Is Mother nature angry for how mankind is treating her?

Because we see no reasons, we may think there are no reasons, but what is unknown and unknowable by us is known completely by God. When God sends a hurricane, there are different reasons for everyone affected by it and those who hear about it. God gives us opportunities:

Opportunities for our hearts to go out to God in prayer for those affected.

Opportunities to give of ourselves and our substance to help.

Opportunities to be thankful for those whose lives have been spared, even thankful that we did not have to endure such a thing.

Opportunities to weep with those who weep.

Opportunities to thank God things were not worse.

Opportunities to realize life does not consist in the abundance of things we possess.

Opportunities to thank God for all those heroes who endangered their own lives to help and to pray for the families of those who died trying to help.

Opportunities to realize the great power of God in his creation and his complete sovereignty in directing the hurricane exactly where and when he determined. It was not chance, bad luck or mother nature who directed the winds, rains and waves but a good All-wise, Almighty God.

Remember the living and true God is not like an image or icon or idol that has eyes but cannot see, ears that cannot hear, a mouth but cannot speak. He sees and knows everything, though he has neither eyes nor ears, but is a spirit and has no body like his creatures. He has no mouth nor tongue, but has spoken by his holy word the Bible.

In that precious book he tells us all we need to know about himself, his creation, and ourselves as far as salvation, faith and how to live.

One verse of great comfort to believers has part of the answer to tragedy. Romans 8:28 is in the context of the Holy Spirit’s helping Christians in our weakness when we don’t know how to pray as we ought. The kind of thing that happens when hurricanes occur.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Here we see that whatever happens (all things) God works together (in ways so often unknown to us) for good. Paul is not saying here that everything will end up well for everyone or everyone will get to heaven in the end. It is “for those who are called according to his purpose.”

This promise is a great comfort to believers because we don’t usually know how so many difficult things are hidden blessings for Christians, even great tragedy.

This is also a great encouragement to those who are yet outside of Christ to turn from superstition and foolish thinking about God to trust in Jesus Christ to find forgiveness for all your sins and false views of God, but also to know real lasting peace with God and confidence in his love and care for you —even in a hurricane.

Charles Fitzpatrick is the pastor of Reibers Reformed Baptist Church near Shermans Dale.