Soon after the Boston bombing and the massive explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant, I wrote about how Tragedies are Teachable Moments. Now we’ve witnessed the massive tornadoes striking the Midwest, especially in Moore, Oklahoma. To me, what makes this event even more devastating are the initial stories of children sitting in the hall of their school killed by the collapsed roof and broken water pipes. Tragedies like this break our hearts as we watch images, hear stories, and just begin to contemplate the horror of not seeing your children come home after school. Christians have their hearts moved with the compassion of Christ for all who suffer.
All the things I wrote in my first post apply to this tragedy too. Christian parents should use these times to teach their children a Biblical understanding and a Godly response to human suffering. We should gather together and pray for these families, send money, and even offer help in any way possible. We can also rejoice with people who were miraculously saved as we grieve with those who lost loved ones. Again, tragedies like this should always break our hearts.
According to Jesus, horrific events like this should also break our hearts in a different way. Consider His words to the disciples in Luke 13:4-5…
4 “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Apparently, Jesus was referring to a recent tragic event where eighteen people were crushed to death by a falling tower. He asks His disciples a very direct question: Were these people worse sinners than anyone else in the world? In other words, do you believe–deep in your heart–that these people were more deserving of death than other human beings? It’s tempting for Christians to think that there must be some obvious reason why certain people die in a tragic accident and others live. We can simplistically assume that God was punishing them for some reason. Now we don’t tend to say that aloud, but Jesus was/is going for the heart. And what He really wanted from His disciples were BROKEN HEARTS instead of judgmental, prideful, and self-righteous hearts.
As we consider the next statement by Jesus, we need to be very careful in our understanding. At first blush, it could appear that He is saying that if the disciples don’t immediately repent of their sins, they will also be crushed by a tower and killed. Instead, what Jesus is doing here is using this tragedy to challenge the disciples to examine their own hearts to see if they really have turned from their sins to God! In other words, this event was an opportunity for the disciples to self-examine to see if their hearts and lives were right with God, in Jesus Christ. So as His disciples today, we also need to pray and check our hearts before God when we watch tragedies unfold before our eyes. And, by extension, we are called to instruct our own children that TODAY is the day to repent of our sins, and seek forgiveness from the LORD in Jesus Christ. While we grieve for others as they suffer, we must also grieve for our own sin.
So as you and your children have compassionate, broken hearts for the victims of these tornadoes, make sure your hearts are also broken and soft towards the LORD. While many people may get angry at God for allowing these tragedies to happen, Jesus calls His people to have broken hearts of humility. Any of us, at any time, may face sudden suffering like the people in Moore, Oklahoma. While we may build storm shelters and do other wise things to prepare for these tragedies, let’s teach our children that the best preparation is that of the heart. Our hearts should be continually broken about our sins, humble before our God, and attached to Jesus Christ!