God in the Storm?
and September of 2005, two major hurricanes hit the southern coast
of the United States over the course of just three weeks. Hurricane
Katrina flooded the city of New Orleans and destroyed numerous cities
and towns along the coastal regions of Mississippi, Louisiana and
Alabama. Hurricane Rita hit many of the same areas with intense
rains and winds.
honest, we admit to wondering where God was in all of the destruction,
displacement and despair caused by those fierce storms. Why didn’t
he stop one or the other of the storms? Why didn’t he diminish
the force of the winds and lessen the amount of rain that fell?
Why didn’t he direct the second hurricane away from the area
that had already suffered so much? Why didn’t he move government
officials to act more quickly to address the horrendous needs of
thousands of people waiting for days in shelters without food or
we need to process our questions by taking them prayerfully to God’s
word. We need to seek truth in the only place it is to be found.
what does the Bible say about God’s role in natural disasters
and the human suffering they cause?
these principles gleaned from Scripture:
Natural disasters and suffering are a part of life in a fallen
world. As a result of Adam’s rebellion against God, all
of creation came under a curse. (Genesis 3:17; Romans 8:19-22)
When God finished creating the world and its inhabitants, it was
very good. After Adam’s rebellion, though, the physical
forces necessary to create destructive natural disasters became
a part of the earth’s environment. For example, before Noah’s
flood, the earth probably had a thick canopy of water vapor that
made the climate uniform everywhere. There were no warm and cold
ocean currents or high and low atmospheric pressures. The physical
components that make a hurricane form did not exist in the world
as God originally created it.
2. Even though, natural disasters came into being as a result
of the fall, God uses them to accomplish his redemptive purposes.
Sometimes a storm or famine can be a sign of God’s judgment
on his people. This was the case in the Old Testament period and
will be so in the years just prior to the return of Christ. (Psalm
135:6-7; Matthew 8:23-27 and Ephesians 1:11)
3. God uses the trials and sufferings brought into the lives of
his children by natural disasters to refine and strengthen their
faith. Just as muscles become stronger when they are stressed,
so does our faith in God get stronger when we face hardships.
(1 Peter 1:6-7)
4. As God’s children weather serious traumas in their lives
and minister to others in the midst of them, it provides opportunities
for the light of the gospel to shine into the spiritual darkness
of the world. In 2 Corinthians 8-9, Paul commends the members
of the Macedonian church for their generous giving for the relief
of the suffering Christians in Jerusalem. In 9:12-13 he says,
“The ministry of this service is not only supplying the
needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings
to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God.”
according to scripture, we can expect hard times in life, we believers
need to be prepared to face natural disasters and other traumas
in a way that will accomplish God’s purposes in our own lives
and glorify him in the world at large.
how these actions might form a spiritual disaster preparedness plan:
We must know God. We must prepare ourselves for trials by diligent
study of scripture. Only as we understand God’s holiness,
power and love will we be able to thrive in a time of testing.
2 Peter 1:2-4 encourages us that we have “everything we
need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called
us by his own glory and goodness.” (Emphasis added)
2. Trials and suffering make us seek God. When things are going
well, we tend to forget that we need him. When either literal
or figurative hurricanes hit, we run to him for refuge and help.
God will use any means available to him to get us to focus on
him, rather than on the world. Notice what God says in Hosea 5:15.
“I [God] will go away and return to My place. Until they
acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; In their affliction
they will earnestly seek Me.” (NASB) Check out Psalm 119:67
3. A believer needs to face every experience in life as part of
God’s sovereign plan. God may use suffering and trials as
discipline (Hebrews 12:7-11). Or, he may use them to strengthen
and refine our faith. (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-9). He also teaches
us that he is a source of great comfort through our troubled times.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
4. We also need to develop an eternal perspective on life. Paul
considered his suffering to be minor in comparison to the spiritual
stamina and knowledge of God it developed in him. He understood
that his suffering was accomplishing eternal progress in his own
life and in the lives of those he preached to and taught. An eternal
perspective will help us keep our heads and establish godly priorities
when we face great loss or suffering. (2 Corinthians 4:7-8, 17-18)
8:28 is God’s promise that he will never waste a moment of
pain in our lives. With that promise in mind, it is clear that as
we submit to God as our ultimate authority, provider and protector
will we have what we need to weather any storm that he sends our
way. David understood this and wrote these words in Psalm 23: “Even
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will
fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they
to be with us in the times when we are most afraid, and God never
fails to keep his promises. He is powerful enough to carry us through
trials and storms. He is also powerful enough to direct storms away
from us. Whichever he chooses to do in any given situation is an
expression of his incomprehensible, sacrificial love for us. We
may never understand why certain things happen, but we can rely
on the person who is absolutely sovereign over every single circumstance
in our personal lives and in the history of the world.
learned to trust in the sufficiency of God through incredible seasons
of suffering. He had a firm disaster preparedness plan in place.
He stated it in Romans 8:38-39. “For I am persuaded that neither
death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things
present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other
created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”