Two years ago Kathryn and I were on Ovation of the Seas cruising around New Zealand. That cruise didn’t go near White Island, but had it, I’m the type of person who likes to visit unusual and precarious spots. The Stokes family are on the current cruise. We believe that they are safe and sound. Many aren’t! Our hearts and our prayers go out to them.
Tragedies like the fatal volcano eruption on White Island turn our world upside down… even as Christians. Maybe especially as Christians, since we believe in a faithful Creator, who is love! We can understand that the forces within the creation are awry (Gen 3), and that the creation itself suffers as in “labour pains” (Ro 8:21-23), as God draws it to a great renewal (Acts 3:21). But this still doesn’t answer our heartfelt sorrow and confusion over seemingly cruel, random tragedy.
We only find an answer when we see that God Himself, Jesus Christ, became a creation-bound person like us, also subject to its forces, and not only random, but deliberately evil and cruel. He was marred beyond human semblance (Is 53:14)! This was not a contradiction of His loving nature, but a direct expression of it; because He loved the world and us so much, He freely submitted to this! (1Jn 4:9,10). This love was so strong, it broke the power of death and reversed it in resurrection to eternal life, for Christ, and all who believe in Him.
This is a love that holds us firmly in all the blows that come against us, from the random to the most deliberate, from the small to the truly tragic.
Grace and peace,
Rev. Jonathan Button