“As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”-John 9:1-3
The idea that people who suffer from one sort of calamity or another have deserved it is ancient. Maybe it is not their fault directly, but somewhere along the line they have created their own situation.
And that situation is somehow a punishment from God.
It is the kind of thinking that drives what has been called the “health and wealth gospel.” It’s message is simple: Live a life in God and your reward will be material, and visible. And while many of us, especially in this, the wealthiest nation on earth, experience various levels of material reward for our work, the danger is we can come to believe we are better, or superior to those who have less.
Such is the case when Christian leaders associate natural disasters as forms of punishment for those living, what they consider, unchristian lives. The problem with that is Jesus taught another way of looking at such things.
You’ve maybe heard of Christian pastors saying things like tornados, or earthquakes, or hurricanes are the result of God’s wrath against people living in sin, in particular those who are gay, or those who support the right to choose. But what are we to make of events like the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida? If we apply the logic that says God is punishing these people for their sins?
I would rather suggest that what is really at work during events like hurricanes is they become opportunities for people to reveal God’s love and compassion for the world and each other.
Total strangers helping those in need. A reporter helping a mother dolphin and her calf return to the ocean after they had been washed ashore in the storm surge. People from all faiths opening their doors to house the displaced.
Millions of dollars raised to provide food, water and shelter for those in need.
No one is checking IDs to see whether they are gay or straight, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, Christian or not. People are hurting and in need. Other people put their lives on the line to help them out.
One of my favorite movies is “Love Actually.” We watch it every Christmas. At the very opening scene we see people at Heathrow airport in London, and the voice over talks about going there whenever he feels down. People are hugging, embracing, smiling. Families, lovers, friends welcoming one another. He points out that when the people on flight 93 were fighting for their lives on September 11, 2001 not one of them called a loved one to express hatred and anger.
They only spoke of love.
Why is it that we often wait until moments like these to realize what is most important in life? That, as the voice in the movie says, “Love actually is all around.”