The Israelites always knew to turn to God in repentance when disaster struck. When they were defeated and enslaved by Babylon and carried away in captivity, their response, as we see in the Song of Azariah, was to admit that their own sins provoked this chastisement.
We react in the opposite way today. When misfortune strikes we think, “How dare God allow this to happen?” We blame Him for not preventing it; we think that He is cruel and capricious. Some pastors even urge parishioners to express anger at God. But this is wholly contrary to the pattern in the Scripture. There we learn that, if God’s patient forebearance fails to cause His people to return to Him, then He will use misfortune. As Azariah would say, “In truth and judgment hast Thou brought all these things upon us for our sins.”
These tragic events are not simple tit for tat punishments, but disciplines, teaching tools. They aim to strip a person of self-satisfaction and cause him to return to God in humility. However, some tragedies spring from the malice of the evil one, who hates all humankind. (Matthew 13:28) “An enemy has done this.” His power to inflict such evil is supported by human sin, which runs like poison through the world. When children and the innocent suffer it is especially sweet for the evil one, because he can enjoy both the pain they endure and also the grief and confusion we onlookers feel- we, whose petty lies, gossiping, and anger built up his strength in the first place.
It is not up to us to figure out why tragedy happened. We only have to respond to it- casting ourselves on the mercy of God, searching our hearts in repentance, and abandoning ourselves wholly to Him.
Excerpt taken from the book: First Fruits of Prayer, a forty day journey through the canon of St. Andrew. By: Frederica Mathews-Green