In general two questions people would ask in connection with all the tragedies that are happening.
1. Why is God allowing these things to happen in the world?
If you look into the Bible carefully, after God created the world (as per the account in Genesis), even before the human race had grown into big numbers, God looked at the wickedness that was on the earth and decided to send a big flood. What we see and hear is nothing compared to that. The entire earth was immersed in the time of Noah but his eyes were on one family that was righteous and he saved that family. God allowed that to happen because there was so much wickedness on the earth. But after that he decided to make a covenant with human beings and we are living under that covenant. God decided not to send that kind of flood or disaster into the world anymore and we have the Rainbow covenant. Things happening around us are small disasters that God has sent - we don't know for what reason but Bible gives few reasons why God acts that way.
In the book of Job it says God allows us to be tested. Job had everything. He was a rich man, he had possessions, had good health, a family but by the end of the chapter he had nothing left - a big disaster came into his life. All his children died, his possessions were taken and he was left alone in this world. He had to go through a disaster of this kind in his life because God wanted to test his faith. Job lost everything in his life (even his health ), his body was rotting so that his wife even told him to curse God and die! But Job had a great attitude. His response was, 'How can we accept good from God and not trouble?' His attitude was so good that he wanted to cling to God in spite of the disaster that happened in his life.
If you read the book of Job carefully, after a few chapters after his friends come and talk to him, questions arise even in Job's heart about why God was doing this to him. Many people ( we also may have gone through those thoughts when difficult times come) ask, 'Why is God allowing this to happen?' Job too, asked many questions of God. God did not answer Job's questions but, instead, asked Job some questions, which stunned him. God came to him in a wind, asked him some hard questions and Job had to answer.
1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
2 "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
4 "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone--
God asked many questions.
In v4 he asks Job, 'Where were you when I laid the earth's foundations, tell me if you understand?' and many other questions.
In v8, 'Who shut up the sea when it burst forth from the womb?' and in v12, ' Have you ever given orders to the morning to show the dawn its place?'.
In v16, 'Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea and walked through the recesses of the deep?'.
In v17, 'Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me if you know all this.' God asked many questions about his creation. When Job entertained doubts in his heart, God started shooting questions which stunned Job and forced him to become humble before God. It is very interesting to read all the questions in the book of Job. We've all started progressing scientifically and our government is thinking of putting up a warning system but how much do we really understand about God's creation, this universe?
Science magazines says the sun and its nine planets constitute one small dot in trillion such stars that make up what we call the Milky Way galaxy. That is not all. The Milky Way galaxy measuring one lakh light years from edge to edge, is one of an estimated one million such known galaxies in space. The more we know about the nature of Space the more we realize how little we know and how little control we have. Actually we know very little about God's creation. But we have an easy way - we can surrender to God.
8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God handles things differently. We can't think and we can't question God. If we read the book of Job fully, we see that in the end Job surrenders to God completely. He humbles himself and says, 'Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, 'Listen now and I will speak, I will question you and you shall answer'. My ears had heard of you and now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes'. And we read that God blessed Job's life more than what he had before. God noticed that, in his heart, Job wanted to repent and change. Today, brothers and sisters, we need to have the attitude of ' God I know you are great and I want to surrender to your plans'.
2. Are these the signs of the end of the age?
The world is going to come to an end and Jesus is going to come and judgement is going to be there - are these signs of the end? There is something written in the Bible based on which people are asking these questions.
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
4 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you.
5 For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ, ' and will deceive many.
6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
This passage talks about some of the signs of the end times - there will be earthquakes, nations will be at war against each other. Jesus says these are just the birth pains of the end times that are to come. We do not know when the end is going to be and when Jesus will return. But it is very important for us to learn what Jesus cautions us about in this passage and be watchful about my life.
36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;
39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.
41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
42 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
It says in v36 that nobody knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven or the Son - only the Father. In v42 it says, 'Therefore keep watch because you do not know on what day our Lord will come'. One thing is clear, we all need to face God one day or the other. And this warning could not have come at a better time - the end of the old year and just before the beginning of the New Year. Many times - we know our lives brothers and sisters - we have postponed things even after we heard messages, even though we've read our Bibles and know what righteousness is, know what God's standard is. We decided to postpone things but today God is warning us - you never know when the end is going to come. Standing at the beginning of the New Year, we need to make some decisions about our lives, for our families, about our hearts. Then we will be able to understand this more clearly. We need to take those decisions, which are very important.
First of all we need to think about how our relationship is with God. Is God part of our everyday lives? Are we reading his scriptures and walking according to it in this world? Is prayer a priority in our lives? We live in a materialistic world and it seems as if we pray only during crises -we need to change that. Our country needs prayers, our government needs prayers, our children needs prayers, and our brothers and sisters in the church need prayers. We need to be prayer warriors. And, as we go, God can do many miracles in our lives.
We need to seriously think why God has kept us alive. When thousands and thousands of people have died why has God kept me alive? Or is it that just because nothing has happened we can take life easy and be complacent? Is God keeping us alive so we can take care of ourselves, our families, our businesses, make more money and do the things of the world and carry on as if nothing happened?
God has chosen us with a purpose and has given us another chance with a purpose because we are the elect, the ambassadors as the Bible says. God knows very clearly that we, as disciples, can make a difference in this world. God remembers the mission, which we chose - to seek and save the lost.