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Are natural disasters God’s will?

Well, are they?

That’s possibly your initial response to the question posed in this week’s article. If so, it accomplished its purpose — for the recent rash of deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, etc., once again reminds us that we live in turbulent times.

If we lived in Old Testament times, the answer to this week’s question would be a resounding “Yes, without a doubt!” Why is that? Simply because everything was viewed to be the result of God’s Will in those days. Even a casual, cursory reading of the O.T. reveals a strong Calvinistic (i.e., predestination, everything is caused by God) view. And, there are still many today who believe that way.

That’s why their answer is still the same:

“Yes, all of these storms are God’s Will. In fact, they are all God’s Judgment upon us because of our sin.”

While we cannot discount the fact that all storms, earthquakes, wildfires, etc., are a part of God’s overall sovereign Will, we must be careful in assuming an authoritative, O.T. prophetic stance on this — for none of us … not even us preachers … know the Mind of God (Isaiah 55:8-9). And, woe to those who believe they are (and those who accept their teachings hook-line-and-sinker).

So, back to the question: “Are natural disasters God’s Will?”

The answer, it seems to me, is “Yes and No.”

Yes, in the sense that everything is either caused or allowed by God. He is sovereign — which means that ULTIMATELY everything will turn out the way He wants. But, again, this doesn’t mean He has to CAUSE everything.

The Bible clearly teaches that ours is a “fallen” world — i.e., that everything was affected by Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden. That’s why the Apostle Paul wrote “All of creation groans and travails in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22), which is the picture of a woman writhing in agony with childbearing pangs.

Thus, when we see all of these “natural” disasters, we’re seeing the residual effects of Adam and Eve’s sins. Prior to their partaking of the forbidden fruit, the roses had no thorns, the snakes had no poisonous fangs, the lion lay down with the lamb, etc., etc., etc. Everything was perfect.

But, then sin entered the picture. And, with it the proverbial Pandora’s Box of suffering, disease, deformity, destruction, death, etc.

Does this mean that an omniscient and omnipotent God just set things into motion and took His Hands off our world and it’s up to us to respond the best way we can? Or, is He still involved in the affairs of our lives and still present even in the midst of storms like those that have been wrecking havoc in the Midwest the past couple of weeks?

To me, the answer is the latter — i.e., that God is still Immanuel (“God with us”) and “a very present Help in trouble” (Psalm 46:10). And, when I couple that with Christ’s Promises to “always be with us” (Matthew 28:20b) and “never leave us or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5b), then I can experience His “indescribable Peace” (Philippians 4:7) even in the midst of the storms.

We know that God is not the author of death. It’s because of Adam’s sin (Romans 3:23; 6:23; I Corinthians 15:21-22). However, we also know that God uses everything — EVERYTHING — in our lives to bring about good “if we love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Therefore, in a world that seems to have gone stark-raving mad I shall be slow to pronounce judgment on others because of their sins and quick to point them to Jesus, the Savior, Who is willing and able to forgive and cleanse them of all sin (Rom. 5:6-11; Heb. 9:14; I John 1:7-9).

And, one of these days the Lord God will say “Enough!” as He puts an end to all sin, suffering, storms, etc. (II Peter 3:13). Until them, I will continue trusting Him to calm the storms of my heart as I hear Him say “Peace, be still. Be not afraid” (Mark 4:35-41).

To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at pressingon@hotmail.com.

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