Q: Dear Pastor,
Why does God bring natural disasters on people? Is he angry at them?
A: When tragedy happens in our world, we are quick to say, “Why, God?” It is human nature to want to blame someone for our crisis. However, the question God taught me to ask him in the face of hard times is not “Why me?” it is “What now?” For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 4:45, NASB).
God gets blamed for all kinds of horrible things that he has nothing to do with. He put our earth in orbit and commanded that our light-source rise and set each day. God then decided there would be rain for our water supply and food from crops. These are all blessings from the Lord that illustrate his love of his creation and for our survival on earth. Yet because the whole earth was crippled when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, things are not right in our world. They are out of order. The earth began to die after Adam and Eve sinned. People, too. Weather patterns changed. Strife and trial were introduced. Sin began to escalate. The fact that there is a limited loss of human life in spite of the magnitude of disasters these days, shows us that God’s hand still protects and saves.
Some people say that natural disasters are the result of global warming. Yet the cause of a damaged atmosphere is explained in the Bible: “For against its will the universe itself has had to endure the frustration resulting from the consequences of human sin. But now, with eager expectation, all creation longs for freedom from its slavery to decay and to experience with us the wonderful freedom coming to God’s children. To this day we are aware of the universal agony and groaning of creation, as if it were in the contractions of labor for childbirth” (Romans 8:20-22, TPT). Simply put, our planet has been off kilter since human beings began to sin, yet special interest groups and politicians act like they invented the idea of a broken earth and point fingers at people groups they believe to be the cause. While hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes and floods still occur, countless Americans leave jobs, family and the creature comforts of home to jump into the clean-up and be a blessing. They’ve decided to act on “what now” without the need to know why or point fingers at how it may have happened.
Once, I was traveling from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Terre Haute, Indiana, after a major hurricane hit landfall in North Carolina. As soon as I headed south from Indianapolis, I was following four giant air-boats on trailers pulled by regular looking folks in pick-ups. “That’s America,” I said proudly. I’d never seen an airboat in my life, let alone on a freeway - but clearly, four people decided to love their neighbor and go rescue flooded victims. And they weren’t in the slow lane, either.
Natural disasters and tragedies test our faith in a loving God. There are people at this moment throwing their hands up and walking away from Christianity because a god they believed in would never send calamity upon them. A faith crisis is a tragedy in itself and is only worsened by the fact that people base their relationship with God on a fairytale, not the truth. People love to cherry-pick the blessings of God, but often leave behind what doesn’t suit. I call this, “The-ATM-mentality.” We punch in whatever we want and require God to spit out exactly what we’ve ordered up. If he doesn’t perform to our specifications, we walk away. “After all,” we say, “what good is God if he doesn’t help me when I need him?” They don’t understand faith. Certainly not a mature one.
Fair-weather Christians are missing out on a real relationship with a real God based on trust. Knowing Christ also means trusting him even when we don’t understand what’s happening or why.
Adrienne Greene pastors two Christian churches in southeastern Indiana. Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Please send your inquiries to: email@example.com or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030.