220mph winds. Water flooding 18 to 23 feet above normal tides. At least 30 dead. Where is God in a natural disaster like Hurricane Dorian?
This is perhaps one of the most difficult questions for the Christian to answer because we’re not talking about moral evil. When we read in the news of another school shooting or a terrorist attack, we at least have the box of humanity’s total depravity and sinfulness to put it in. But when it’s simply the wind and waves, an amoral force of nature, that extinguishes human life, we don’t really know where to put it. So how does our Christian worldview explain such devastating circumstances when it can’t be traced to a human hand? Especially as people who believe in an all-powerful, sovereign God who is more than capable to calm the waves. (Mark 4:39)
Where is God in a natural disaster like Hurricane Dorian?
Well, let’s consider the voice of Scripture, as is always right to do when seeking answers to difficult questions.
Now, from time to time, I think we’ve got to be honest that we don’t quite feel the testimony of Scripture to be satisfying, and if we’re being honest, not very agreeable to who we believe God to be (or perhaps want Him to be). This is one of those times. Psalm 147:8 tells us that, “He covers the heavens with clouds; He prepares rain for the earth; He makes grass grow on the hills.” Jeremiah 10:13 says; “When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and He makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and He brings forth the wind from His storehouses.” And Psalm 89:9 says; “You rule the raging of the sea; when it’s waves rise, You still them.”
So where is God in the storms? He’s the guiding hand. The waves were as tall as He established them to be. The winds were only as strong as He blew them. Even the homes were only as touched as He determined.
He will be faithful; He will be good. Let’s praise Him for that, even in the midst of the storm.
God is God. We’ve got to recognize that. But we also need to see His heart of compassion for His creation. Consider the passing of Lazarus in John 11. Now, Jesus is God, and God is sovereign, all things work according to His purposes, yet what does Jesus do at the sight of Mary mourning the loss of her brother? “He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled.” (v. 33) And then we come to the shortest, yet still powerfully poignant, verse of Scripture, “Jesus wept.” (v.35)
In the face of tragedy, though God is sovereign, He does not rejoice at the hurt and suffering caused by a disaster like Hurricane Dorian. He’s no cosmic tyrant. So how do we respond to it? God has established it to happen in His perfect will and yet He has also established His Church to be a force of love in the world.
There are many practical ways to be a blessing to those struck by such a tragedy, and it’s important that as God lays them on our hearts by His Spirit, we are faithful in carrying them out.
Our response to Hurricane Dorian and any other affliction should be:
- With faith in an invisible God who is profoundly good, loving, and kind. A God who works all things to the good of those who love Him. (Rom 8:28)
- With hope that though creation groans now (Rom 8:22), and we along with it (8:23), there will come a day when all will be new.
- With love for a God who rescues from the ultimate suffering of an eternity apart from Him and with love for our neighbours in this world who are grieving and hurting in the wake of such a disaster.
- With humility, as difficult as it is, to recognize that God need not explain Himself to us (Job 42:2). His thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways. (Is 55:8)
So, let’s hold fast to the rock and anchor that is our God, casting our fears, anxieties, and uncertainties upon Him. He will be faithful; He will be good. Let’s praise Him for that, even in the midst of the storm.
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