Why Does God Let Natural Disasters Happen?
A lot of people are asking this right now, as we turn on the CNN and see one of the worst natural disasters in modern history unfold. Haiti, which was already the POOREST noation in the western hemisphere before, has been devastated by a massive earthquake, killing tens of thousands, leaving untold more homeless, starving, suffering beyond measure. The country is in ruins. Its not just a tragedy - its a thousand tragedies.
Why? Why did God make this happen? This is the question a lot of people are asking. Some people, like Rev. Pat Robertson, suggest that its because of Haiti's sins, or something like that. This is nonsense. In fact its even worse, its HERESY - of the worst kind, denying the unconditional love of God, who demands that innocent children suffer for the sins of others.
God doesn't cause natural disasters. The reality is, there are a lot of things that happen in this world that are not God's will - from war, to child abuse, to global poverty, to yes, natural disasters. Even though insurance companies, to this day, refer to hurricanes, earthquakes, lightening strikes, and pianos falling from the sky as "acts of God," they aren't. The God of Israel, the God of Jesus, isn't a God that throws down lightening bolts on us - that's somebody else - that's ZEUS - and he doesn't exist.
Nonetheless, even if we don't believe that God causes natural disasters, he does still allow them to happen, doesn't he? If God is ultimately in control of everything, if he has the ability to stop natural disasters from happening, because God can DO ANYTHING, why doesn't he stop earthquakes from killing people?
Why? We need to recognize that we humans are always looking for the answer to the question "why?" Why did this happen to me? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why can't I do this? Why are things the way they are?
Sometimes finding the answer to this question leads us humans to deeper truths about the nature of the universe. Sometimes answering the question "why" leads us to realize that something we thought about the universe isn't actually the truth at all.
But here's the scariest possibility of them all - sometimes we can't find an answer to the question "why?" because there is not answer. We want for there to be an answer because if there's a why, we can figure out how to keep it from happening again. But we can't. Having an answer makes us secure, makes us think we're in control.
We need to face the terrifying reality that the universe we live in, that apparently God has put us in, is a chaotic, random one. Sometimes we'll be living our lives happily, and randomly, our planet will collide with another planet, and we're gone. There's no "why." Just because. That's all.
Jesus himself, from his cross, called out to his Father, "WHY?" "Why have you forsaken me?" he asked. He felt abandoned and alone, like God had left him - I imagine very similary to the way many Haitians are feeling today.
But as my old Rector at the Seminary, Fr. Jean Papen, used to tell us - Jesus "why" turned into a "how" - it turned into a "how" to accept the suffering that life sometimes gives us, and how to make an act of faith that God's creative power will somehow transcend and redeem the destruction that is evident around us, and turn it into a passageway to new life. Jesus "why" becomes, "Into your hands, I commend my Spirit."
So maybe there is no "why" - its a human quality to always want to know "why" - sometimes there is no why in this world. Face it.
BUT - God can redeem the tragedy, can redeem the thousand tragedies. Tragedies awaken the humanity within us, humanity that has sometimes been lulled to sleep by our complacancy. Tragedy can awaken compassion in us, it can bring out the best in us. Truth is, we weren't doing anything about the immense poverty in Haiti before, but we will now, now that we've noticed it.
These are not REASONS WHY God would CAUSE the earthquake - but they could be ways that God will take these thousand tragedies, and turn them into opportunities to create, to love, to be like him.
One way to do that - click HERE TO SEND FINANCIAL HELP TO HAITI.
For more on this topic, click on Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?