Disasters have been around since the beginning of the world. Adam and Eve lived in the idyllic Garden of Eden experiencing the presence of God who walked and talked with them in the cool of the evening. The garden was full of fruit trees from which they could eat. In the middle of the Garden were two trees: the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Gen2:8,15). We all know the story of the Devil who came in a guise of a snake and persuaded them to eat some fruit saying, ”You shall not die.” But that is exactly what happened to Adam and Eve and to all people. From the beauty, security and peace of Eden, they found themselves in a dry and thirsty land in which they had to work to live, and women to bear children in pain. The next disaster was the flood, and we read of Noah building his Ark to God’s specifications while the evil population carried on eating, drinking, getting married, and scoffing at Noah. The foretold flood arrived, it covered the earth and all life that wasn't in the Ark drowned. One disaster we need not fear is another such flood. God has promised there will never be a flood that covers the earth and has given us a sign that this will not happen - beautiful rainbows after rain.(Gen 9:13).
There are, of course, all kinds of disasters not least political disasters. In the book of Esther, we read of Haman who hated Jews, and planned an early Holocaust. Queen Esther had been chosen to replace King Xerxes’ first wife. Esther had been instructed by her Uncle Mordecai who had brought her up to tell no one that she was a Jewess. One day she heard that Mordecai was sitting outside the King’s Gate in sackcloth and ashes, so she sent her eunuch to inquire what was wrong. Mordecai sent back the news with the message, ”Do not think that because you are in the King’s House, you alone of all the Jews will escape. But who knows that you are come to your royal position for such a time as this?” To which Esther replied, “Gather all the Jews in Susa and fast for me for three days, and I and my attendants will fast also, and if I perish, I perish.”(Esther 4:12-15). As a result, she saved her people and Haman was hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai.
At the second coming of Jesus Christ the redeemed will be housed with their Lord in the New Jerusalem for the first 1000 years of eternity. Then the Devil will be released, and his surrogates Gog and Magog, will foment a revolt against God but will be completely destroyed (Rev 20: 7-10). Then comes a period of disasters sent from God on the wicked world who refuse to accept his authority and curse him for them. Finally, before the creation of a new heaven and new earth, there is the judgment before the Great White Throne when all humanity will be resurrected and stand in the presence of Almighty God. The unredeemed will be judged according to what they have said and done when the Book of Accounts is opened. All will be excluded from the presence of God forever, and there will be different degrees of punishment according to the seriousness of their sins. The Book of Life will be opened. Christians, and believers by faith in God before Christ, will find their names written in it ”from the foundation of the world”, and they will escape the ”lake of fire”. (Rev 13:8). The him in this verse refers not to God but to the Beast. Christians’ judgment is about the rewards God will bestow on them for what they have done for the glory of Jesus Christ. For God has said he will “remember our sins no more”. ( Heb 8:12; Ps 103 by David).
The apostle Paul was “ circumsized the 8th day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, as touching the law, a Pharisee”. (Phil 3:5). He was born in Tarsus and therefore a Roman citizen by birth. From an early age he was educated under the renowned Jewish scholar, Gamaliel, in Jerusalem. By profession he was a tentmaker and supported himself on his missionary journeys by making tents. Paul had consented to Stephen’s death and persecuted Christians, dragging men and women out of their homes and throwing them into prison which often resulted in execution. On a trip to Damascus to do the same, he was surrounded by a blinding light and Jesus spoke to him, telling him to go to the house of Ananias who would be expecting him and would restore his sight. This was done, and Paul was baptized and started preaching. Much of the New Testament is about Paul eg in the Acts of the Apostles, or letters he wrote to churches, or people. Of the 27 books of the New Testament, Paul wrote 13. These are the letters to the Romans, 1 and 2Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Paul founded several churches in Asia Minor, and Europe. His missionary journeys are recounted in Acts.
2 Cor 11:24-26 tells us how Paul suffered during these journeys.” Of the Jews five times I received 40 stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep. In journeyings often, In perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, In perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren” – to which we may add martyrdom.
As Paul waited, manacled and in the dungeon for his imminent execution, this is what he wrote to the Romans. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 37-39). God grant that we remember these words when disaster strikes us!