The recent natural disasters around the world have caused many people to ponder whether these occurrences could be judgments from God. Some say that God is judging humanity because of its increasing immorality. Some say God is sending these calamities as punishment for our rebellion against Him. Are these people right? Are tornados, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, and the like, judgments from God?
Yes — and No.
There are two ways God affects events in the world; He either causes them to happen or He allows them to happen. According to the Bible, the natural disasters we are witnessing today are a case of God allowing us to experience the consequences of our rebellion against Him.
Originally, God created the universe and pronounced it ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). This means that the original universe had no sin, disease, death, etc. God created and ordered our existence a certain way, which was in harmony with Him and His will. Mankind chose, and many continue to choose, to rebel against God and live according to selfish desires. This places us at odds with God and, as a result, things do not function as they were created to function. All the evil, tragedies, disasters, and diseases we are experiencing are the result of man’s rebellion against God. This rebellion began with the fall of Adam and Eve.
So, God has given us the standard for living a complete life. If we choose to ignore Him or rebel against Him, it is our fault when things go wrong, not His. For example, if your mother had told you not to put your hand on the hot stove top or you’d get burned, would you be right to blame her when you disobeyed and got burned? It would be your fault that you got burned, not hers. You had received a clear warning of the consequences of your actions and yet you willfully disobeyed. Such is the condition of much of mankind. We have been given the Bible which tells us that, if we do not recognize God for who He is and respond accordingly, there will be consequences. The choice is then ours whether or not we obey God.
The world is currently under a self imposed judgment which each of us chooses for ourselves (Romans 3:23). Ideally, if every individual in the entire world would turn back to God, paradise could be realized right here on earth (II Chronicle 7:14).
The Bible says that even nature (creation) is affected by man’s sin and is in the process of deterioration (Romans 8:22). Even non-theists recognize the second law of thermodynamics which posits that everything is running down. It is moving from a state of complexity to chaos.
The very presence of these natural disasters should remind us of the horribleness of sin and evil (which is absence of God’s presence or rule). The Bible tells us that Satan prowls the earth seeking to devour people (I Peter 5:18). He doesn’t care whether they are young or old, rich or poor, smart or uneducated. He simply wants to destroy us. Natural disasters can be seen as metaphors for Satan.
Many times good and Godly people suffer terribly in these disasters. However, the Bible never promises those who love God that nothing bad will ever happen to them. It does promise them that He will be with them through everything, no matter what the outcome, and that their final destination will be eternity with Him. No loss here on earth can compare to the glory that eternal life with God brings (Romans 8:18).
Some say God is a terrible, hateful God for allowing disasters to take place. They ask why a loving God would not put an end to these tragedies.
What if He did? What if He allowed us to rebel against Him without any consequences? Would anyone turn to God from their self serving ways if there were never any repercussions from their actions? Would God be loving if He allowed us to remain oblivious to the fact that we are living in such a way as to forever alienate ourselves from Him for eternity?
How much worse could recent disasters have been if God had not been superintending them? How many more lives would have been harmed if God hadn’t protected people during these catastrophes? How many more people might have been injured or killed had God not limited the destruction?
No — God did not send the recent disasters, they are consequences of a world reeling from the effects of sin. He does allow us to feel the effects of this sin in hopes that we will realize the seriousness of our plight and turn to Him. God’s word assures us that He will supply everything we need if we will trust in Him. Nothing escapes His notice. He loves us enough to send His Son to die on a cross to pay for our sins. He will give us peace and joy even in the midst of the terrible events that will inevitably take place in our lifetimes.
Our appropriate place in the universe is both in His arms and at His feet, simultaneously.
Then we will be in the one place that assures us of eternal life and allows us to be a conduit of His love to mankind.