Not long after Oliver Cromwell died, England invited the late King Charles’ son, also Charles, to come reign over them. Throughout the land people rejoiced to throw off the rule of the Puritans. Rules do not change the heart or impart convictions, and matters were made worse by men who only wore the outward austerity of Puritans to gain power, and lacked the inner integrity/fortitude.
King Charles II was the polar opposite of the recent rulers. Given to pleasure and coming to power from an exile without training in responsibility, he led the way in debauchery and loose living…and England merrily followed suite.
It was during this time that John Bunyan lived. This was the preacher who wrote Pilgrim’s Progress while cast into prison for his preaching. Well did he know Vanity Fair, a very fitting picture of the king’s own court.
It was also during this time that England suffered the plague and then the Great Fire of London. Were these judgments from God? I can’t help but think, yes. Not only is scripture full of accounts of God sending judgment on sin, but consider this: after a list of rhetorical questions where the answer is ‘no’ (Can two walk together except they be agreed? Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it?), the prophet Amos concludes, “Is there calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?” (Amos 3:3-6)
Today as we face growing turmoil and sickness affecting the whole world, should we not consider it as not only something God allowed, but something God sent? Surely evil is on the rise all around—abuse, fornication, denial of God himself and everything He does and says.
This does not mean we should shudder away from those fall sick or suffer loss as especially sinful. We should take it as a warning to forsake our own sin. As Jesus said, “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4-5)
In a way, disasters can be a blessing. They are a call for repentance. Even in Revelation, the severe judgments on earth are a warning to turn to God. People then harden their hearts and refuse to repent, cursing God instead. The end of that way is destruction.
Yes, hardships happen to people faithfully following God, too. Think of Job, Joseph, Daniel, and Paul. The proper response there was to continue staying away from sin. The end of that suffering was not destruction, but reward.
Do evil tidings abound? Turn to God and His righteousness. This is the way of hope.