The Hands of God in Tragedy

By Justin Johnson

Originally written in March of 2012.

This winter has been one of the warmest winters on record. As a result we have had some turbulent wind and storms. People died in many states last week, including my own, due to tornadoes.

John Piper, Calvinist and Christian hedonist, said that the tornados were God’s fingers of death telling everyone to turn from sin and come to Jesus.

Here is a photo of God’s Fingers.

God's Fingers

Piper, as do others, refers to Job’s ignorance about how God was intervening as a pattern for us to succumb to the old bromide that “God works in mysterious ways” as we try to put the pieces of tragedy together.

This is simply inadequate when God has revealed further information about his way of intervening not found in the oldest book of Job.

Unfortunately, he and other Calvinist-minded people have missed the dispensational truth that God is not testing the world as under a covenant any more. He is not waiting for the world to turn from sin. That ended with the dispensation of God’s grace.

God’s Terms of Peace

Instead, we learn from Paul’s explanation of this dispensation that “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2 Cor 5:19).

God’s terms are grace and peace offered by his ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20). He is not pouring out judgment, punishment, or wrath yet.

Even Peter recognized the delay of God’s anticipated return to judge as the present “longsuffering of our Lord” unto salvation (2 Pet 3:15).

What a terrible testimony to the longsuffering and grace of God to say that every natural tragedy is God’s fingers killing people under terms of reconciliation.

God is not dealing with the earth in death and destruction through a conditional covenant, but freely offering grace, peace, and positions in heavenly places.

How We Respond to Tragedy

Our response to tragedy is to recognize it as a symptom of this “present evil world” (Gal 1:4), and to motivate us to see souls saved before they face the sudden reality of death in a sin cursed existence.

God has reconciled the world to himself. He is offering terms of peace, and free gifts of grace, through faith in the blood of Calvary’s cross amidst the ongoing storm of this broken world. Trust in Christ completely for your reconcilation with God. He was made sin for you, so that the punishment for sins would not fall on you.

Tribulation and death through the eyes of a minister of the gospel of peace reminds us of the fallen state of battlefield earth. It works to direct our affections towards the hope of heavenly places where we will abide for eternity in Christ (Col 3:2-4; Phil 3:20).

You, as members of the body of Christ, are God’s hands on earth, not tornadoes. The hands and feet of the body of Christ ought to minister the mystery of Christ and the gospel of peace in any circumstance.

Unlike Job…

Unlike Job who did not know whether God hated him or loved him, we know the manifold wisdom of God and his terms of peace (Rom 5:1).

Unlike Job we are not waiting for the Lord to return to earth:

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:” – Job 19:25

Job’s friend asked, “Hast thou heard the secret of God?”, because he did not know it (Job 15:8).

We can know the secret of God in the mystery of Christ revealed to Paul. It affects how we react to tragedy:

“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery,…” – Eph 3:2-3

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Published: March 10, 2012
Last Modified: March 1, 2019
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