Does it seem to you as if our world is having more and more natural disasters? Some of these disasters include huge wildfires that have burned hundreds of thousands of acers including hundreds of homes in California. Super Typhoon Mangkhut devastated parts of the Philippines, Taiwan, and China. Hurricane Florence caused massive flooding in North Carolina. Tropical storm Lane caused massive flooding in Hawaii. Over two million people were displaced in Hokkaido, Japan because of massive flooding and mudslides. An earthquake and tsunami have devastated Palu, Indonesia, and there have been other violent volcanoes and earthquakes around the world. These natural disasters have killed many people and totally disrupted the lives of countless others.
Where is God in all these disasters? Why does God allow these naturally occurring events to devastate so many people's lives? Some people believe that natural disasters are God's way of punishing us for our sins. The Bible tells the story of Jacob's sons who were arrested and imprisoned in Egypt. They blamed their misfortune on their sin saying:
Surely we are being punished . . . that's why this distress has come on us (Genesis 42:21) .1
Although the Bible does attribute some natural disasters to God who punishes his people for their sin (see Deuteronomy chapter twenty-nine), we should not attribute all disasters to God. For example, many wildfires were caused by arsons. Hurricanes are caused by the warmth of the sun. Volcanoes and earthquakes are caused by shifting tectonic plates and magma pushing its way to the surface of the earth. God could have stopped the arsons. God could have lessened the warming effects of the sun, and he could stop the shifting of tectonic plates, but in his providence, God allows these things to happen. Pastor John Piper describes God's providence as God "sustaining and governing the universe." Nothing happens by chance. Events are not random. Everything that happens has a cause. Natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes have a natural cause, but God is the ultimate cause, because God sovereignly rules over the universe. Psalm 115:3 says,
Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.2
We will never fully understand why God allows natural disasters to happen, because we can never fully understand God. What we do know is that God is a good and loving God who mysteriously allows bad things to happen. All we can do in response to these bad things is accept that our lives are in the hands of a loving, all-wise and all-powerful God.
Trusting God even when I don't understand him,
Pastor Steve Lorenz
October 4, 2018
1Genesis 42:21; THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. All other references to the Bible are from the NIV.
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God is at work
Our resident evangelist Nazih presented his work in Egypt with Church Planting Development Team and challenged us to see the harvest and go out to help people find Jesus. God is good!