Whenever a natural disaster happens there is always questioning of where is God. Some immediately say without a pause that the disaster was an act of God’s wrath against sinners and perhaps dance in happiness over it (as a recent viral youtube video showed). Others scream there is no God and proceed to insult this supposedly non-existent God as sadistic, horrible, mean, wicked, etc. Both of these responses are rather wrong-headed, but the real answer remains difficult to comprehend. When things like this happen, I myself am grieved and beseech God quite a bit about it, knowing that God is love and even “takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 33.11). It helps to know God is grieved too, even if it were an “act of God” for judgment.
If reading this CNN article and looking at the pictures of the wreckage, death, and suffering doesn’t break your heart, you don’t know the heart of God. It gave a good summary of the events – but the pictures! I looked at them all and was very grieved.
The best short article I found on the issue is from Gotquestions.org “Why Does God Allow Natural Disasters, i.e. earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis?” By all means read it.
But I will say this: in the uncertainty of events like these, there are some things we do know, and can take hope in – God is good. We have been given more than enough proof of that. As Jesus points out, God allows the sun for the evil and good, the rain for the just and the unjust (Matthew 5.45). People are given so many good things in life, and even the very poor; but credit is not given to God far too often. Still, God is “kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6.35). We know from Scripture that some natural events are specifically sent by God (the storm over Jonah’s boat comes to mind), but it’s also arguable that the disastrous weather patterns we have today are because of the advent of evil in the world and are allowed by God in this temporary age of fallenness until He returns to redeem all things.
But there is one thing that makes any condemnation of God most obviously bankrupt – the fact that God Himself visited earth in human form and suffered along with us. He experienced all the pain humanity experiences, in order to save them by dying on a cross. Yet people still reject Him! I think God has much more of a right to question our love than we do to question His. What’s more, many good things can come out of natural disasters – in Haiti many people believed on Christ and are thus eternally saved because of this temporary earthquake. I hope Japan will see the same.
We don’t know all the answers, but we do know that God does. And God guarantees this fallen world will be redeemed someday, and evil banished. All we can do is trust Him.
“… There is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarians, Scythian, slave and freedman, but Christ is all and in all.” – Colossians 3:11
We often talk about the difference between the East and West in present and past politics, socio-economic issues, and religion. By “East” we usually mean the Middle East, China, India, and the like. By West we mean Europe like Italy, Britain, Greece, etc. and in the past few centuries, the Americas. These two spheres of the world are very different in their outlook; they have risen and fallen in dominance in history; fought each other killing and maiming and enslaving. It has always been so. The East rose first in human history in the form of such empires as the Assyrians , Babylonians, and Persians. Then the West rose up in the Greek and Roman Empires. The back-and-forth battle for dominance continued through the Middle Ages up to today in our globalized world as we see continued debates (and violence) about Islam, Far Eastern religions, terrorism, democracy, Western influence, secularism, and really, everything under the sun.
But what astounds me is how God has brought East and West together by His redemptive plan in Christ. He placed the nation of Ancient Israel right in the crosshairs of East and West, for maximum exposure of His chosen people and Himself to both ends of the world. In the coming of Jesus, God combined the East and West into one in the process of welcoming the Gentiles to be his people. Jesus was an Eastern man but had his New Testament written in Greek, a western language that had permeated both East and West. He brought a new kingdom that does not get into the petty political or racist differences of earthly kingdoms but brings in members of every kind of human who simply believes in Jesus Christ.
The above verse makes this beautifully clear. Those who have seen or experienced the harsh differences, hate, and division between cultures can appreciate how liberating and redemptive this is. This is yet another example of how Jesus Christ annihilates all that is bad, and builds all that is good. As Charles Ryrie wrote, “In Christ, distinctions of race, class, and culture are transcended.” Amen.