Here is a post that I recently did for my friend Scott Bond Jr, who is the youth minister at the Martin Church of Christ.
OnApril 27, 2011, a series of violent storms traveled across theSoutheast United Statesbringing hundreds of deaths and billions of dollars worth of damage. Many that we know have been affected and this lesson cannot begin to answer the host of questions that center around the word, “Why”? Why did God allow this to happen? Why, if God is so loving and so powerful, did He not do something to stop them? These are just a few of the questions that are on the hearts and minds of thousands of people today. I cannot begin to understand what is being felt, but I want to hopefully offer some words from God on a way to think about these tragic events.
First, God is in control of everything, but he is NOT directly involved in all things. The Bible makes it clear that God is the one in charge of the whole cosmos. Psalm 103:19 states, “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” There is a word that sums up his complete control: sovereignty. Our God is sovereign because he is the creator of all things and controls them through his Lordship (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 24:1-2; 89:11). There are two areas over which God reigns, but he does not necessarily cause all the things that happen in those areas. The two areas He allows to be a part of his creation is the free will of man and natural law. The free will of man is a vital component of man because it allows us a choice in all matters. Free will may be used for sinful and evil behaviors, but these come from the heart of fallen man, not God (Matthew 15:19; Romans 5:12-21). The second area that needs to be considered is natural law.
Natural Law has been put in place by God to help govern the day-to-day activities of the world. Think about how God created the heavens and the earth. He placed within this creation certain functions that provide life and well-being for all his creatures. This earth has patterns of day and night and seasons that govern all of life. Throw in there gravity that keeps us connected to the ground, earth that produces crops, and wind and rain that allow life to survive and you have an unbelievable planet. God has set in motion all these factors that we take advantage of every day. No wonder Paul can say that creation itself helps point us to God (Romans1:20)! With all this in mind here is something that you need to realize, sin has affected the natural order of things. This leads us to point number two.
Second, SIN is the reason that the natural order is sometimes violent and destructive. Just as sin changed man from an innocent creature to one who knows good and evil and will eventually die (Genesis 3:16-19), sin also changed the earth. We do not know fully how the earth operated before the Fall, but something changed within creation itself. “Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you” is part of the judgment from God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:17b-18a). This, to me, is the reason why we have natural disasters today. Sin has corrupted the earth, and the earth will be judged along with man. At the end of the day, we may not have immediate answers from God as to why these things happen, but we do have a solution that is promised to everyone who suffers from these occurrences. This leads to our third and final point.
Third, God is going to make everything right at Jesus’ second coming. This is the solution that God gives to the evil and suffering that exists on the earth. Whether from natural disasters or our own sinful actions, God has a plan in motion which will fix these problems. Let us start with the first recorded natural disaster and then work our way through Revelation to see what it says about this issue.
Genesis8:20-22 and 9:8-17 both tell of the covenant God made with Noah after the flood. The flood was a pronouncement of judgment not only on mankind, but on all of creation as well. It was not man alone who felt the wrath of God in the flood, but the entire creation. If you notice the wording, you will see that it contains a covenant that covers both man and the earth. This covenant promises that man and creation would not be judged by another cosmic natural disaster, but we see that natural disasters have been present on the earth since the flood. These thoughts lead to a passage in the New Testament that sheds more light on the present issue.
Romans 8:18-23 stands as one of the most overlooked passages in the Bible. This text tells us that “creation was subjected to futility, not willingly…. That creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (8:20, 21). Just as man is fallen and will eventually die because of sin, sin has also corrupted the natural world to the point where it too suffers. Natural disasters fall under the corruption of the world and bring great suffering to many, but these things will be reversed by Jesus. Here in middle of the great text of Romans 8, Paul tells us that the sufferings of this present time will not compare to the glory all things share in the end (v.18). All the brokenness and death that is the result of sin will be reversed at the second coming of Christ. This is talked about in Revelation 21 and 22.
Revelation 21 and 22 is the picture of heaven itself. This text tells us that heaven is not some place in the clouds where we will be playing harps, but this vision shows that heaven is a very real place. One could say that it is the fully restored vision of God dwelling with man with a passage like Revelation 21:5, where Jesus says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” This is the promise that is for all of God’s creation, the primary beneficiaries being man. Jesus has also shown us in his resurrection that all the earth, not just mankind, is affected for its good through him (1 Corinthians15:37-49). Jesus stands as the solution to everything that is wrong with the world, even natural disasters! This is God’s solution to all the suffering caused by natural disasters.
You see, we may not have a full picture of what heaven will be like, but these passages point towards a place where everything that is wrong in the world will be made right in the end. Natural disasters, though they are part of nature now, will not be present in the end. The Bible from Genesis to Revelation shows that God is not only addressing all the issues of man, but of the entire cosmos as well. God may not give you an immediate answer to the great question “Why?” but he does provide a solution for all the wrongs that exist in our world.