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Amos 4:10-11 • Reacting to Disaster

“‘I sent a plague among you after the manner of Egypt;
I slew your young men by the sword along with your captured horses,
And I made the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils;
Yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the Lord.
‘I overthrew you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,
And you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze;
Yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the Lord.”
    —Amos 4:10-11 (NASB)

What is the right response to tragedy, calamity, or disaster on any scale whether directed at us personally or as part of a larger whole? It’s a repeated biblical pattern that in such times, the quality of one’s faith and righteousness is proved by the speed to which we turn to the Lord…or not. The biblical examples of righteousness provided in the character and examples of so many throughout Scripture have in common a greater concern for what might be affecting their spiritual life than the physical.

At some point, if biblical faith truly takes hold, it actually becomes a source of comfort that this life is but a temporary bump on the road to a greater eternal life in Christ. It puts the things of this life in the proper perspective as God sees them. We also come to realize that so much of what occurs in the course of our physical, earthly life is in reality a result of spiritual events. Nature and politics aren’t random, “chance” events, but an expression of a greater, unseen spiritual battle. It becomes second nature to immediately turn to Him as the first response to every earthly circumstance.

But there are those who are seemingly unresponsive on such a level. They don’t realize that the greater message behind life’s events is to set their feet back on God’s path or to ensure that everything is first right with Him. God is not silent as some think, but actually interacting in this physical realm to prod our hearts back to Him through these things. But in spite of repeated events and attempts, “Yet you have not returned to Me.” They turn to other things instead.

This speaks strongly to me of why a “social gospel” is not a biblical gospel. That is, ministering to others’ needs without simultaneously providing the Gospel message to properly respond and interpret these things is enabling one’s refusal to return to Him. We need to love our neighbor with deeds accompanied by the truth so it will lead to the only Way they can truly break out of this earthly cycle to embrace something greater at work.