Friday, February 17, 2012

Why does God let natural disasters happen?

        A little while back, on the Early Show, Jane Clayson posed this question to Anne Graham: “How could God let something like this happen?” (regarding Hurricane Katrina). Anne gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said: “I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”

        Amen! The Bible tells us clearly that by God all things consist and are maintained:

(Colossians 1:17)
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

        And when he backs out of the picture (like we're screaming for him to do, more and more) things are no longer maintained.

        And here's something else to contemplate: If you're blaming God for a natural disaster, did you bother crediting him for all the days BEFORE then that one DIDN'T happen?

        What usually gets brought up next is that the good people have to suffer with the bad people when natural disasters strike. But several passages in the Bible show us that God never allows the righteous to be punished with the wicked. Those that doubt God's goodness then have to resort to the gray area of probability. They say, "You're telling me that out of all these people affected there were none that were righteous? Surely, there were SOME. There just HAS to be." But we have to remember a few things here. First, the righteous people have an appointed time to die just like the wicked people do. In fact, a lot of times, God is sparing the righteous from even worse trouble to come when he takes them home to be with him (Isaiah 57:1). In fact, sometimes he deems that this wicked world isn't even worthy of certain righteous people (those that are being persecuted for his name's sake), and takes them on home (Hebrews 11:37-38). But until that moment God takes the righteous person home, they will be delivered from whatever affliction they go through in this world (Psalm 34:19). Finally, we also have to remember that God DOES chastise his own children when they misbehave (Hebrews 12:6) and there just might be some righteous people afflicted by natural disasters because of that. But God is not mindlesly unjust as atheists suggest, and he never punishes the righteous with the wicked without a good reason.

        Abraham knew God would never destroy the righteous with the wicked, and God allowed him to go search for righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah, even though God knew there were none there:

Genesis 18:20-25
20. And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
21. I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
22. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.
23. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
24. Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
25. That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

        Here we see that the angel from God cannot and will not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah until the righteous are out of it:

Genesis 19:21-25
21. And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken.
22. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do anything till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
23. The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.
24. Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;
25. And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

        And here's proof that Lot was deemed righteous in God's eyes:

2nd peter 2:6-8
6. And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;
7. And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
8. (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

        Here's another example of God sparing the righteous. In verse 4, God marks the people that are saddened and dismayed by all of the idolatry in Israel and in verse 6, says that they are to be spared:

Ezekiel 4:1-7
1. He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.
2. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.
3. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side;
4. And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
5. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
6. Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: BUT COME NOT NEAR ANY MAN UPON WHOM IS THE MARK; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.
7. And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.

        Sometimes, God takes the righteous simply because it's their time to go. Not only that, but a lot of times they're taken away to be spared an evern greater evil:

Isaiah 57:1
The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.

          One of the responses I've heard to this asks how you can explain God not preventing priests from raping altar boys. Well, probably because the boys' parents were praying to Mary instead of Jesus, and Jesus is our ONLY mediator with God, as the Bible says in 1st Timothy 2:5, NOT Mary. Seriously, though, why can't the PRIESTS prevent themselves from committing such a sin? This is moving from natural problems into man-made problems but, believe it or not, this is where it gets even tougher to criticize God. What if he DID stop the Priests? What if he went further and stopped all rape? What if he stopped all infidelity? What if he stopped all theft? What if he stopped all smoking and drug use? What if he stopped all cursing and swearing? You know what we would do if he stopped all the harmful choices we make against each other? We'd complain about THAT! Go read the article 'Atheism contradicts itself' and you'll see that man is always wanting God to intervene when we're being held at gunpoint, but to turn his head when we are HOLDING the gun.

       It's always the same situation for God: Danged if he does, and danged if he doesn't. God gave us free will and the ability to make a choice, but he also gave us sound instruction towards which choices to make, and we've been blaming him for BOTH ever since. That's why he gave us Galatians 6:7 and, boy, does it ever smack us between the eyes on a daily basis:

Galatians 6:7
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

        And what do we reap when we sow things like rape, murder, adultery, theft, etc, etc, etc? God tells us:

Hosea 4:2
By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.

        So, you're not going to be able to indict God for things that demon-possessed Catholic priests do. You only get to blame man for trying to have sin without consequences and failing miserably.

        But getting back to natural disasters, we have to remember that because of man's disobedience to God in the Garden of Eden this is a fallen world and the whole creation groans for the redemption:

Romans 8:22
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

        Blaming God for the tremors and shudders in this planet is like driving off of a cliff and blaming God for every bump on the way down.

        PRAYER is what lets us dodge these events or get through them if they happen to us, people. And to put it bluntly, people aren't praying today. Not for themselves and certainly not for each other. In fact, we're screaming for God to get out of our lives completely.

        I want to address one last thing. Sometimes God DOES let maladies fall upon people, but it's always for some far greater benefit. The blind man of John chapter 9 is a great example:

John 9:1-3
1. And as Jesus passed by he saw a man who was blind from his birth.
2. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3. Jesus answered, neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in them.

        In this case, God wanted to show the Pharisees (past, present and future) that THEY were blind, as well, and couldn't see the forest for the trees, so to speak. Jesus healed the man's sight, of course, and the Pharisees had a big problem with that. They argued and debated as to whether or not Jesus had actually healed the man because he had done it on the Sabbath. Some of them argued that he HAD to be a sinner to have done such a thing on the Sabbath, while others argued that he couldn't have healed the man if he was a sinner. Do you see the irony here? The man who was literally blind was made to see, no problem. But the Pharisees, who had their vision fully in tact, left the scene just as spiritually blind as ever. If it hadn't been for that blind man (who went on to follow and worship Jesus) we wouldn't have that particular scriptural wake up call to open our eyes and see the simple things that God is trying to show us, one of which, is that we need to stop blaming him for all the bad things that are happening to us down here and start following him again.