We’ve all thought this, right? At some point in life we’ve all wondered…
Why does God allow disasters?
How can a loving, caring God possibly allow bad things to happen to His people?
For athiests this is one of their favorite ploys. When something terrible happens they usually chime in “OK, where is God now? How could he allow this to happen? Simple – there is no God and you’re wasting your time.”
Here in 2020 this is seemingly the year for disasters. One right after another.
Just check the headlines…
COVID-19, this virus that simply won’t go away. Few people infected with the virus actually die, but now MILLIONS have been infected worldwide. Despite our best efforts this pathogen simple won’t just go away, and we’ll now be dealing with this for more months in the future.
And consider the economic ramifications of this perplexing virus. Some people will never go back to their old jobs and must work to find new ones. In the meantime the financial stresses and strains, not to mention increased mental health and related issues, have pushed some folks to the edge this year.
In the western U.S. deadly wildfires are truly deadly. Up and down the West Coast we see the carnage on the TV news every day now. Homes and even whole towns destroyed. Those areas have become a tinderbox and all it takes is one spark. And there always seems to be a spark handy.
Down in the Gulf Coast area they’re again getting drenched with hurricanes and tropical storms. There have been so many storms this year that the experts have run out of names for them, now starting the alphabet over again with Greek letter names like Beta.
Violence, looting and destruction have made news this summer because of civil unrest, in too many cities and towns across America. Some areas have been torn apart as arguing continues on who is responsible and what to do about it.
And we don’t have enough space to list those disasters happening in other parts of the world. More terrible fires in Australia. The ravages of COVID in every corner of the planet. Genocide in parts of Africa and Asia. Murders and crime tied to drug dealing and cartels.
We’ve heard the old line – “going to hell in a handbasket.” Forget the basket, more like a dump truck.
And above it all, somewhere, is God. Looking down from Heaven…and He’s doing…nothing?
Maybe He’s on vacation this year? Away from the fray?
We could drag out the old line that “God id Dead.” Somehow an omnipotent being who created everything from the dawn of time just expired? Let’s put that one away right now. The whole idea of God is tied to eternal life – how could that promise be given to us and then the caretaker just dies in the middle of it?
No, God is there, as He’s always been. And if you look at the history of mankind it is filled with disasters of all kinds. From well before the time of Jesus to well after, disasters and pain and suffering have been part of the mix.
Isn’t it interesting that we sometimes call natural disasters “acts of God?” As if the Big Guy is up there just picking and choosing who to zap and who to spare. But then you see that line in your insurance policies – that really needs a new name…
But God has clearly been a part of some disasters. Just look it up in the Bible – Noah’s flood. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Various storms from the stories of Jonah and Paul and others. Moses and the plagues of ancient Egypt.
And then there’s the whole book of Revelation, which most believe is still to come. Lots of nasty stuff to happen on Earth as part of THAT story.
So why, God? Why do you allow bad things to happen to your people?
There is plenty of interesting debate on this subject on various websites. Some tie this to the idea of “original sin” from Adam and Eve – mankind sinned, was tossed from the paradise of the Garden of Eden and is forever cursed with all kinds of afflictions. If only they had left that apple tree alone.
But the story of Job from the Old Testament might be a telling one. Remember the description?
Job is doing well – wealthy, with a large family and plenty of stuff. He is also a devout man who worships God. But Satan tells God that Job is only devout because he has lots of stuff. Take all that away and Job would start cursing God.
So God allows Satan to take things away from Job, and he does so in a vengeance. All ten children killed, everything destroyed, even boils given to Job. Job’s wife is devastated and tells her husband to curse God – why would He allow this?
But somehow despite all the turmoil and pain, Job stays the course. He never curses God and in fact continues his belief. “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away” is just one of the familiar lines from this book. Simple common sense from a humble and righteous man.
In the end Satan is proven wrong – again – and Job is rewarded for his faith with renewed health, renewed riches and a MUCH larger family eventually stretching four generations. All because he BELIEVED.
Could God swoop down and stop all disasters from happening? Sure, at any time. Could He stop all diseases and viruses? With a snap of His fingers.
But imagine if He did that – what would we learn? Nothing. Instead we’d sit back and wait for God to do everything, provide everything, without a care in the world. And if all that happened, who would be really in charge? God would become the eternal butler, fixer and sugar daddy.
And that’s not the creation that God intended. From the beginning, whenever that was, pain and suffering has been part of our human condition. We don’t like that, and we often say we don’t, but it’s there and it actually NEEDS to be there.
Perhaps we were never fit to stay in the Garden of Eden. Everything provided, no decisions to make, just living and existing. We sometimes dream of a utopia where all is well and there are no worries but what do we learn from such a place? Nothing – no striving, no working, no dreaming of something better which drives us to work harder, innovate and explore.
Pain is part of life, period. Pain and death teach us about the value of life, why it’s necessary to keep on swinging not only for ourselves but for those who will follow us. Job kept on swinging.
But God has offered us an extra lifeline – eternal life, for believing in Him. He gave his son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for our sins – you know the crucifixion story, talk about pain! God could have easily swept away that burden on Jesus but He didn’t do so – why? As an example to each of us that HE has the ultimate power over death and anything tied to it.
Jesus didn’t get the easy way out – and neither do we, or should we. Our human existence means work and how we deal with curves thrown our way. God probably doesn’t throw us those curve balls but He doesn’t stop them either – instead He waits to see how we react. Will we be like Job’s wife, wanting to curse the situation when things come up short? Or more like Job, with steady belief in Him and the graces He provides which sometimes we don’t even take the time to recognize?
And one more view – perhaps God wants us to work together to overcome those obstacles that come our way. Let’s take a familiar verse…
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” – Matthew 18:20 NIV
…and change that to…
Where two or more WORK to help others in my name, I am absolutely by your side.
We’ll always have suffering, it’s part of life. But God has graced us with so many blessings as well – let’s use them to help those in suffering. With God we can overcome anything.
From George Churchgoer