It's the type of thing that gives Christians a beating in all spheres of life. Mind you, I'm not one who expects Christianity to conform to the ways of this world; let's face it, Christians are called to believe some things that aren't exactly easy to prove (though, to be fair, the empirical standard demanded of Christianity is a tad much higher than some of the "accepted" scientific explanations we have out there; for example - HIV arose from the crossing over of an animal virus due to humans - ahem, Africans - having sex with chimpanzees)
But I digress, some of this belief stems from what happens when an infinite unfathomable being makes contact with a finite fallible creature. They are unexplainable. But I once heard a phrase that I believe summarizes our notion of God in relation to nature:
God is not unrealistic; He is beyond RealityThis is a grounding perspective, for though the Christian is called upon to be a 'peculiar creature' in this world, this peculiarity is never meant to approach the degree of making him unrealistic and irrelevant to this world. This world cries out for intelligence, especially from the Christian; service to the Creator does not shield us from learning and appreciating the vast knowledge and delicate handiwork that went into making and sustaining this world.
I make this emphasis on Reality, because it appears a large amount of Christian teaching/evangelism is devolving into either the Fire and Brimstone or Prosperity Gospel avenues. It takes the minimal amount of brain power to teach these two. Judgment theology has been around for a very long long time; it accentuates the view of God as a Mighty and frighteningly Just Judge - squaring each and every account. Of course, Jesus came to show us that God was something else above all these things: MERCIFUL.
I'm tired of all apocalyptic literature being tied to excesses of weather (floods and drought), natural disasters (Ring of Fire, anyone), Wars, shifting world powers (China), etc. If anyone knows world history, the would know that these are pretty common occurrences. Truth be told, I believe all these things are actually bad for disbelief, because nothing drives a human faster into the embrace of Faith than when they finally realize how feeble they are in this world; that there is something much bigger than all that we see.
I'm personally more prone towards thinking of Jesus coming in the "thief-in-the-night" fashion. As a race, we still haven't risen above most of our prejudices, despite technological advances. There will be no $8 million billboard campaign when He comes through. We will be doing just what it is that we've always been doing - living our lives. He will come to find the habits that we've fostered in our own lives. - loving/stealing/forgiving/exploiting/caring/abandoning/edifying/bullying..... He's not coming for the one-off chance that we'll be doing the right thing at that moment in time [we can only be so lucky]
[aside: a friend of mine showed me a clip on apocalyptic prophecy where some consummate professional was being interviewed about the "signs of the times". The interviewer kept shifting things towards the role the USA was supposed to play as a good guy, and the oil reserves of non-Christian nations].
Jesus had it right in Matthew 6 - we shouldn't worry. Chasing after these worldly things only makes us out to be the same as everyone else (...despite any pastor's remixed phrase of "Divine chasing"). Be right with God, and help those who need help. The widows, the orphans, the alienated, the disenfranchised... Let Jesus come and find you trying to finish this "unfinishable task", and He will embrace you as the loving faithful child that you are.