Luke 13:1-5 (NIV)
1Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Tragic times are not necessarily indicators of divine displeasure. Natural disaster and catastrophic events do not single out their victims as especially sinful, nor are they marked targets for God’s wrath. When we label victims of tragedy as great sinners and we attribute its cause to God we minimize our own sin and our great need for mercy.
Great tragedy is not reserved for great sinners. Hardship, disaster, and death threaten all kinds of people. The greatest tragedy is not found in the news or on the landscape of earthly events. The greatest tragedy is when a person fails to receive mercy at the hand of a forgiving God because they did not think they needed to repent of their sins, and so they perish.