There are many questions that keep many of us awake at night. This is one of them:
Why does God allow earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, cyclones, mudslides, and other natural disasters? Tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the 2008 cyclone in Myanmar, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and the 2011 earthquake/tsunami near Japan cause many people to question God’s goodness. It is distressing that natural disasters are often termed “acts of God” while no “credit” is given to God for years, decades, or even centuries of peaceful weather. God created the whole universe and the laws of nature (Genesis 1:1). Most natural disasters are a result of these laws at work. Hurricanes, typhoons, and tornados are the results of divergent weather patterns colliding. Earthquakes are the result of the earth’s plate structure shifting. A tsunami is caused by an underwater earthquake.
The Bible proclaims that Jesus Christ holds all of nature together (Colossians 1:16-17). Could God prevent natural disasters? Absolutely! Does God sometimes influence the weather? Yes, as we see inDeuteronomy 11:17 and James 5:17. Numbers 16:30-34 shows us that God sometimes causes natural disasters as a judgment against sin. The book of Revelation describes many events which could definitely be described as natural disasters (Revelation chapters 6, 8, and 16). Is every natural disaster a punishment from God? Absolutely not.
In much the same way that God allows evil people to commit evil acts, God allows the earth to reflect the consequences sin has had on creation. Romans 8:19-21 tells us, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” The fall of humanity into sin had effects on everything, including the world we inhabit. Everything in creation is subject to “frustration” and “decay.” Sin is the ultimate cause of natural disasters just as it is the cause of death, disease, and suffering.
We can understand why natural disasters occur. What we do not understand is why God allows them to occur. Why did God allow the tsunami to kill over 225,000 people in Asia? Why did God allow Hurricane Katrina to destroy the homes of thousands of people? For one thing, such events shake our confidence in this life and force us to think about eternity. Churches are usually filled after disasters as people realize how tenuous their lives really are and how life can be taken away in an instant. What we do know is this: God is good! Many amazing miracles occurred during the course of natural disasters that prevented even greater loss of life. Natural disasters cause millions of people to reevaluate their priorities in life. Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid is sent to help the people who are suffering. Christian ministries have the opportunity to help, minister, counsel, pray, and lead people to saving faith in Christ! God can, and does, bring great good out of terrible tragedies (Romans 8:28).
Excerpted from GotQuestion.org
This article unfortunately does not adequately reflect the Biblical position. The common assertion that “Most natural disasters are a result of these laws at work” only explains the scientific means whereby the disaster occurred: it loses sight of the fact that God exercises sovereign control over all natural phenomena.
Secondly, the idea that “God allows” is not Biblical. God does not merely allow natural disasters, the Bible teaches that He actually sends disaster upon nations and peoples because of their rebellion against their Creator. There is an interesting set of articles related to this subject here:-
On the subject of “does God allow suffering?”, the following is helpful:
I have been blogging through God and the Weather series on my blog this spring. It pertains to a lot of what your articles is speaking about.
Hi Mr Schafer I will pass by and visit your blog. Thanks for the link.
Paul, I think you’re misreading the article and probably misreading the articles you linked to. The dtl one even says:
While the author of that article likes to play with quotes alot, the fact of the matter is that from a temporal, human perspective, we can say that God allows that which in His providence He does not prevent. That is, God doesn’t need to cause individuals to sin, that is a necessary outcome of their sinful nature. God does direct that sinfulness to specific purposes (Acts 4) but He doesn’t need to force anyone to sin nor does he need to force tsunamis or earthquakes to occur. They do in fact occur as part of His foreordained plan and purpose, but it is not as if God is reaching into the ground and causing the earthquake directly. Therefore we cannot, apart from special revelation that Reformed adopters of sola scriptura don’t accept, say that God sent sent the earthquake and tsunami on Japan as judgment against Japan any more than we can say God sent a tornado to judge Oklahoma or the flood to judge those in Mississippi. Christians were killed, injured and impacted in these disasters as well as unbelievers. As Christ said of the tower that fell:
Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?
That said, God is the first cause of all that occurs, in that he foreordained all that occurs. I think however you need to reread the very articles you suggest.