one purpose of suffering and calamity

I’ve been reading in Amos lately.

In chapter 4 verses 6-13 the writer recounts all the difficulties the Lord has sent to Israel in order to persuade them to return to the Lord.  But they don’t return.

Here’s a list of the calamities He sent them (minor in comparison with what was to come):

  • cleanness of teeth and lack of bread 
  • withheld the rain, no water
  • struck with blight and mildew and locusts
  • sent pestilence
  • killed young men with the sword
  • carried away horses
  • made the stench of the camp go up to their nostrils
  • overthrew some of them

And after each calamity it is reported, “‘yet you did not return to me,’ declares the Lord.”  

The ESV study bible notes these calamities as “patient appeals” by God that come before the largest calamity of all:

“Therefore I will do thus to you, O Israel;

because I will do this to you,

prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”

So what do the Israelites have to fear?  What is the huge calamity that the Lord was working to spare them from?  It is meeting God (which would come by way of the Assyrians obliterating them).  Meeting God is the greatest calamity in the world, for those who are in rebellion against Him.  And Israel was in rebellion.

I pray that this truth will give me some urgency in sharing the Gospel.

Not all calamities and sufferings are given for the specific cause of jerking us out of rebellion.  But I dare say that all calamities and suffering should have the effect of causing us to draw nearer to God.

So, I’m praying now, as things are good and blessings flow like water and honey in my life, that I’ll think now about how to respond when calamity comes.  That I’ll get a footing for the hard times that I may one day face.  

And that my footing will be in the Word and in Jesus Christ, the one Mediator between God and man, without whom, meeting my Maker would be more fearsome than any earthly calamity.