It has been a painful experience to watch the pictures and reports of the Grenfell tower fire. It is heart-rending to think of what these people went through. This is intensified by the speed at which things happened, going from normal everyday life to unspeakable tragedy in fifteen minutes. Dozens of precious human beings going to meet their God and Maker.
Our thoughts are with those who are bereaved, and those injured. There is no doubt that the rescue and medical services, as always in our beloved country, have given their all to help, and we thank God for them, but the circumstances were such that they were limited in what they could do. Questions again arise as to the wisdom of housing people in high-rise flats at all, even though it seems to be a necessity in modern life. Certainly, more needs to be done in order to make these blocks safer. Some of the safety deficiencies in the Grenfell tower surely demand investigation, and we are thankful that our Prime Minister has ordered a full-scale investigation, and we hope that it will be thorough and as speedy as possible.
Meanwhile, as christians, we must not detach ourselves from this catastrophe, but be involved as far as we can, in prayer and deep thought about what has happened. We must seek the face of God in prayer for the bereaved and injured, and also for the investigation itself. We do not have all the answers, but we do have some.
The question on the lips of many at such a time as this is, ‘why did God allow this to happen?’ Our answer must stand firmly on the ground that God is God, and that therefore He controls all that happens. So, we have to answer, ‘yes, God did allow this to happen, but as to the ‘why’, we have to turn to the bible to understand the basic factors involved in God’s government of this world. The best place for us to go is to the first two chapters of the book of Job. The picture there is quite clear. There is God who rules over all, and there is Satan who cannot refuse any opportunity to do evil, but cannot make the slightest move except as God allows him. Satan, because of his evil nature, will always take such an opportunity to do harm, and take it to its limit; but he cannot go beyond the limit set for him by God, not even by the slightest amount.
The result of this is that, although we live in a fallen world, we do not live in a world of total evil, but in a world of controlled evil. All one needs to prove this to oneself is to thumb through a newspaper, and ask the question, what is the picture of the world that one sees? The answer is that it is not a world of total evil, but one of controlled evil. The fact is that we have never seen a world of total evil, and we never will in this life.
So the amazing thing is not that catastrophies such as the Grenfell tower fire occurred, but, how rarely such things happen. This is because, when man fell with the tragic consequences, God did not abandon the world He had created, but still rules it according to His perfect wisdom.
May this be a time for us to bow the knee before the God of all power.