Summary: God will allow disasters in this world in order to demonstrate His love to those in the aftermath and to draw others to a saving knowledge of Himself.
This past week I was watching MSNBC and every night on this news program people were discussing why God would allow the tsunami. There were Christians discussing this and atheists.
One Christian lady on the program felt that it was God’s wrath being poured out upon the victims of the tsunami. Indeed many Muslims feel that it was God’s wrath being poured out upon them as well. It was reported in the news that Indonesian Moslems were told by their religious leaders that this tsunami was the result of their sin.
They are estimating over 150,000 people were killed in the tsunami. So is this an act of God’s judgment? Atheists say this is proof that there is no God. They say no loving God would allow this. As I reflected on the different views being presented on the tsunami, I was led to John 9. This is where Jesus encountered the blind man.
Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. (New International Version)
Certainly I am not going to infer this morning that the people of Asia hit by the tsunami were without sin, but maybe the reason God allowed the tsunami was so that His work may be displayed in their lives.
One question people ask is that if God is sovereign and all powerful, then why does he allow people to be born with deformities or suffer through great natural disasters. I believe that what happened in the Garden of Eden answers this question.
When God created the heavens and the earth, everything was perfect. God placed man over his creation on earth. God, however, gave man a choice. Why did God put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden? It seems that things would have been so much better if God had not done that. God knew, however, if He was to truly be worshipped and loved, then man had to have a choice—a choice to follow Him or reject Him. So God tested Adam and Eve with the tree and as we know they failed the test.
The result of their failure was that sin came into the world. That sin not only affected mankind, but also rippled down to affect all of creation as well. This why there is violence in the animal kingdom.
This is why pollens will stir up your allergies. Or why rats and other vermin spread disease in the world. This was not God’s original intent in His creation. Consider what is said in Genesis 1:25:
25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
It was all good! Even the cockroaches were good when God first created them. When Adam and Eve, however, ate of the fruit, sin came into the world and all of creation was thrown into chaos—not only the animal kingdom, but the earth itself, even the tectonic plates.
There would have been no earthquakes if man had not eaten the fruit of the garden, but again the result of sin coming into the world at the Garden of Eden was that the whole earth was thrown into chaos.
The earthquake that caused the great tsunami in Asia is the result of the first sin in the Garden of Eden. The man being born blind in John 9 is a result of what happened in the Garden of Eden. This is why there are natural disasters, disease, and suffering in the world. Some might ask wouldn’t we better off if God just eliminated suffering in this world?
In Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for Faith, he interviews Peter Kreeft, a philosophy professor at Boston College on the subject of God and suffering. This is what he has to say :
“We know that moral character gets formed through hardship, through overcoming obstacles, through enduring despite difficulties. Courage, for example, would be impossible in a world without pain. The apostle Paul testified to this refining quality of suffering when he wrote that ‘suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.’"
If there were no suffering in the world, we probably would not see a need to turn to God. Many of us admire people like Mother Teresa, but there would have been no Mother Teresa were it not for the suffering in Calcutta. It was because of the suffering of those in Calcutta that Mother Teresa was inspired to have such compassion for those in need. Without suffering in the world there would be no compassion.