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What should a pastor communicate to the congregation after a natural disaster or tragedy strikes?

A pastor who ministers following a tragedy will want to remind the congregation that they have been handed a prime opportunity for doing what God's people do best: loving, serving, giving, and witnessing. That window will not remain open indefinitely, so churches must move quickly.

Many in the pews will have questions: Where was God? Why does He let these things happen? Isn't He a God of love? Is God judging our sin?

Sermons need to address some of these questions. Answers will involve:

  • The Sovereignty of God. "Our God is in the Heavens; He does whatever He pleases" (Psalm 115:3). God does not ask our opinion or seek our permission. He is God and we are not.
  • Only God knows whether this tragedy was for judgement, so saying whether it was or was not is presumptuous. However, Psalm 130:3 asks,"If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, who would stand?" When outsiders said Hurricane Katrina's flooding was God's judgment on New Orleans, we answered: "Perhaps so. But there was no flooding in the French Quarter," and, "If He is now judging sin, then look out, friend. Your city may be next!"
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