I’ve been praying for the people of Florida as Hurricane Ian sweeps through. When natural disasters strike, our heart’s first inclination ought to be toward prayer and compassion. Then, as we process such difficult things, we may wonder what God’s purposes might be in the storm. We trust that God is sovereign over all things, and Isaiah 45:7 tells us that God creates light and makes darkness, and makes both well-being and calamity. Scripture affirms that God is over all things. So, we may ask, what God’s purposes are in such things. At our 242 Group last week, we were reminded of Pat Robertson’s statements after hurricane Katrina, in which he implied that the hurricane was God’s judgment upon New Orleans. I think that strikes us as presumptuous at the least, if not cruel and judgmental. I don’t think it is safe for us to assume that any natural disaster is God’s judgment upon a specific place and people, even if we have recorded scenes of judgment in Sodom and Gomorrah, or even in the communion in Corinth). Jesus provides a better perspective, naturally. In Luke 13:4-5, Jesus comments on a local tragedy, in which a tower collapsed and several were killed. He says; “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? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Jesus’ point is pretty simple. Those people didn’t suffer that tragedy because they were worse sinners than anyone else. But that tragedy is a reminder to all of us that we must repent of sins and rest on the grace of Jesus, or we also will perish. The natural disaster is a tragedy that should elicit our compassion, and a warning that should elicit our repentance. In all of it, we run to the Lord, resting on His grace and mercy, knowing only He can preserve us in body and soul.