Romans 8:18-19 reassures us: "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God."
Following are points we should keep in mind concerning the biblical perspective on tragedies, regardless of their scale or circumstances:
1. God has said in Bible prophecy that natural disasters would grow in frequency and intensity as the end of the age approaches—to shake people out of their complacency and lead them to seek Him (Matthew 24:7; Luke 21:25-26; Revelation 6:12; Revelation 11:13; Revelation 16:18).
2. In His design for the world, God allows many events to run their course according to "time and chance" (Ecclesiastes 9:11), so that many tragedies are, for those affected, accidental and unforeseeable.
3. Those who die in accidents or natural disasters are not necessarily greater sinners than those who survive (Luke 13:1-5).
4. Personal tragedies or calamities are not necessarily the result of one's sins (John 9:2-3).
5. Natural disasters or accidents should humble us, helping us to see our dependence on God to sustain and deliver us (Revelation 16:8-11).
6. Natural disasters have sometimes been the direct judgment of God on a rebellious humanity (Genesis 6:6-7; Genesis 11-13; Genesis 17; Genesis 18:20; Genesis 19:24-25).
7. Some natural disasters are made worse by man's poor judgments (Proverbs 14:12) and age-long rejection of God and His laws, resulting in worsening environmental and climatic conditions.
8. God is a truly loving God who is working out a great plan for all humanity (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4; 1 Corinthians 15:22-24).
9. Converted Christians who die in natural disasters will be resurrected to immortality in the first resurrection at the return of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 20:4-6).
10. Non-Christians who die in natural disasters, those who never had a genuine understanding of God or real opportunity for eternal salvation, will be raised in the second or general resurrection to live again in the flesh with their first real opportunity to learn God's way, repent and be saved (John 5:28-29; Matthew 12:41-42; Revelation 20:5).
11. The multitudes of humanity who are raised in the second or general resurrection will experience joyful and abundant life under the rule of the Kingdom of God (Ezekiel 37:12-14).
12. The sufferings experienced now in "this present evil age" (Galatians 1:4)—this era of man's self-rule under the influence of Satan the devil—are writing a lesson of experience about what it means to live in a world cut off from God and His ways.
13. We don't know all the reasons God brings or permits specific calamities or why particular people are made to suffer by them, but we should trust that in God's omniscience and ultimate wisdom He knows how to work out what is best for everyone in the end (Romans 8:28; 1 Timothy 2:4).
14. Jesus Christ will eventually return to usher in the rule of the Kingdom of God (Revelation 11:15; Daniel 7:14), under which natural disasters will no longer plague mankind.
15. When all humanity is at last glorified, there will be no more pain, suffering or sorrow (Revelation 21:4).
16. All the sufferings of this brief present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory we will ultimately experience for all eternity to come (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
The Good News Magazine (Mar-Apr 2005)