Does God still use Natural Disasters to punish people for disobedience and evil? Pat Robertson of the 700 Club apparently believes God does. Just following the earthquake in Haiti he said, “Something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. They got together and swore a pact to the devil…But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other.”
I don’t agree with Pat Robertson on his analysis of this, but I do believe God uses natural disasters to bring judgment and change in our lives. It happened at the great flood, humanity saved by Noah’s Ark (Genesis 7-9). God used 10 plagues and the destruction of the greatest chariot army in world history which crippled the superpower Egypt for the rest of history to this current day as Moses guided the slaves to freedom (Exodus). God used Jonah to warn the Ninevites of their impending destruction, and then used a giant fish to get Jonah to do the work Jonah is called to do. Jesus calmed the storm and walked on water showing the power of God to control all of nature.
Before we can answer this question we need to understand why a loving and benevolent God allows natural disasters to occur at all. First, we go to Genesis to understand that at the end of His six days of creation (Genesis 1:31), God surveyed all that He had made, and proclaimed it “very good.” This is Hebrew terminology representing that which was both complete and perfect. But the first humans, Adam and Eve, sinned against God and introduced death, decay, and destruction into God’s perfect world.
Second, some disasters may be the by-product of something that itself is good. We enjoy boating, canoeing and swimming, but we can also drown. Fire has many important uses in human life, until it burns up something important to us. In a fallen world our blessings can also bring a curse on us, thus we are never to idolize any of our blessings.
Third, natural laws are both inviolate and non-selective. Everyone must obey them or suffer the consequences. In Luke 13:2-5, Jesus told the story of eighteen men who perished when the tower of Siloam collapsed. Had these men perished because of their sin? No, they were no worse sinners than their peers. They died because a natural law was in force. Fortunately, natural laws work continually so that we can understand and benefit from them. We are not left to sort out some kind of haphazard system that works one day, but not the next.
I think the first key to understanding when God is using natural disaster to correct or judge us is that God finds a way to communicate that. It is not hindsight that revealed to Pharaoh that God was destroying his country. He could watch the destruction with Moses telling him what was coming next.
Instead of blaming God when tragedies such as natural disasters strike, we need to turn to Him for strength, and let tragedies, of whatever nature, remind us that this world was never intended to be our final home (Hebrews 11:13-16). Our time here is temporary (James 4:14), and with God’s help we are able to overcome whatever comes our way (Romans 8:35-39; Psalm 46:1-3). In the end, the most important question is not, “Why did this happen to me?,” but instead, “How can I understand what has happened, and how am I going to react to it?”
Finally, we need to remember God uses trials to strengthen us. Trials will come. When we allow God to be central to our struggles we grow through those trials, no matter how bad the struggles may be.
Have you ever survived through a terrible natural disaster? What were the keys to rebuilding your life? How important a role did you allow your faith in God to be through the rebuilding process? When the trials were over were you a stronger person for having lived through the experience? Did you thank God for all His blessings showered down during and after the time of trial? No matter what happens in life we must always remember God loves us and never leaves us or forsakes us.
To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see, www.lagrangepres.com.