Growing Kingdom People – Hurricanes, Earthquakes and Tornadoes
“Why are so many disasters taking place right now?”
Have you asked it?
Have you heard it?
I have. There are at least four possible “quick answers” to this question:
1) The end is near and God is sending us a sign to warn us.
2) We have messed up the earth and we are experiencing nature’s wrath.
3) We are in an unfortunate cycle that just happens to be concentrated in our hemisphere.
4) We are being punished by God for our lack of faith.
Although we are inclined to reject some of these possibilities, they all have biblical validity. Jesus predicts earthquakes, famine and pestilence in Luke 21:11. Whether He was talking about events in the near future or those at the end of time, they were clearly supernatural signs.
God put us here to manage the earth, and if we have been poor managers we have no one to blame but ourselves. Yes, it is possible we have finally crossed a line and permanently altered our environment.
When we look at natural disasters that occurred in the Bible, we realize some of them apparently occurred naturally, as a result of the processes placed in motion at creation. Granted, the entrance of sin into the human race (the “fall”) might have changed how these processes impact the human race. But they are a part of life, such as the famine Naomi and her family experienced (perhaps aided by foreign invaders who had a nasty habit of destroying crops) that led to their departure from Bethlehem.
Finally, we are aware God has used natural disasters to pour out His wrath. The flood stands as a testimony to the fact God’s patience is limited. The Bible assures us the world will never be destroyed again by a flood, but this doesn’t mean God will never supernaturally manipulate the natural means He set in order to punish the wicked.
The only one of these four possibilities we can discern with any level of certainty is perhaps the second, since we can measure man’s impact on his environment and monitor the consequences. However, even here we are unaware of others factors that might be at work and we are limited by a very small window of data within the earth’s history.
So what do we say to people who want to know “why?”
I believe two responses are always appropriate. First, we should always be humbled by natural disasters. They are a time to remember how small we are and how brief life is. We must use every moment of our lives for the glory of God and make sure we live with the right priorities because we never know when everything we have worked for will be blown away.
Secondly, we should look for ways to redeem disaster. Disasters provide an opportunity for the people of God to show grace and love to those who are in need. This is why it is not appropriate to judge those who are suffering when they are doing their best to survive. It is not our job to determine people are merely getting what they deserve. It is our job to love them and point them toward the Lord.
We should be humble and loving and have the attitude of the apostle Paul who said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
I hope things settle down and we are spared further disasters in the near future. Even as I write these words Puerto Rico is being slammed hard by Hurricane Maria.
Humble yourself and pray. Then ask God how He might use you to share His love and grace to those who are suffering.