Summary: Why do natural disasters happen? Has God lost control?

God Of Hurricanes

· We have all gazed on recent pictures and scenes of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and also the Tsunami of December 2004, and many of us have asked searching questions about what we have seen.

· Has God lost control, could this happen here? where does this leave my faith in God?

· The first thing I will say is that when we see these weather phenomena happening we as Christians should actually not be surprised, because Jesus Himself said that it would happen

Luke 21: 25-28

· Of course, knowing that Jesus predicted it does not make it any easier to live through it, but what it should do is give us a sense that these events are not a haphazard happening, but that they are a planned and calculated unfolding of God’s great plan.

· It is all unfolding in God’s time and according to His purposes.

· What I will do today is answer 4 questions: Firstly a simple scientific question, what is a hurricane? Then we’ll ask: are they a new phenomenon, why does God allow them and what can we learn from all this.

1. What is a Hurricane?

· Hurricanes are known by 3 names: Hurricanes, tropical cyclones and typhoons – they are all the same thing, just in different parts of the world

· They always form between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and only when areas of the sea surface rise to around 26 deg. C

· Because these regions are really hot, the sun causes water to evaporate from the sea, so that the air becomes full of water and warmth, and the warmer the air, the more water it holds

· So we get these huge areas of clouds filled with huge amounts of water.

· The turning of the earth actually causes the spinning motion of these massive heavy clouds

· Because the air is warm it is rising and forcing cooler air down ward, so creating this spinning mass of rapidly moving air, moving as fats as 200 mph or 320 kph

· In the middle, where all the cooler air is pushed down, like water running out of a bath, a hole is formed, called the eye of the hurricane, where the winds are much calmer. The eye is usually between 14 and 25 miles in diameter.

· Hurricanes have a lifespan of anything between 5 and 10 days

2. Are they a new Phenomenon?

· No – in fact powerful storms and winds are often mentioned in the Bible

· Look at what happened to the Apostle Paul when he was in a boat:

Acts 27: 13-20

· The story goes on to describe how Paul and the others on board were left clinging to planks in the sea before washing up on an island after the storm had raged for nearly 2 weeks.

3. Why does God allow them?

· It is true that these events of late have caused many, even believers, to question God’s goodness.

· It probably isn’t fair then that these things are called ‘acts of God’, when no-one gives God credit for the many years of beautiful weather one can experience in between such disasters

· To fully understand why God allows these things we have to understand something of the nature of God.

· God created everything, including the weather, and the weather patterns that give us the seasons.

· When God created the world He made everything according to a pattern, and it was all in order.

· We learned earlier this year about God’s laws of order and agreement, and we learned that when everything works in agreement with everything else, everything runs smoothly and peacefully

· We experience that on a beautiful summers day when the sun is just right and the wind is gentle

· The weather was made to compliment and assist life on earth – coolness, shade, warmth etc

· When man chose to exclude God from his life, in came disorder and suddenly everything was not harmonious anymore – man had to now work the soil to get it to yield anything, and the weather patterns became harsh and could have devastating effect – just loom at the flood in Noah’s time.

· Does that mean that all natural disasters are God’s judgement? – No! But some certainly are – Deut 11: 17 tells us that God can cause the weather to do things that bring punishment.

· Usually what we experience are simply the weather patterns that exist as a result of sin

· Now you say ‘oh come on, how can man’s sin effect the weather?’ Well, the answer is that we have no idea how great the effect is of shutting God out of our lives and sinning.

· We were created to be in union with God constantly, and therefore to be in agreement with all other created things – animals, the land, and the weather.

· You want a scripture that tells us about this? –

Look at Romans 8: 19-21

· I like how the Message puts it:

The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next.

Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in

Until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

· Creation is in bondage just as humanity is, and it too awaits the coming order of Christ when He comes again.

· Sin affects absolutely everything, which simply means that where there was once order and the weather helped us, there is now disorder and it can harm us.

· Compounded with that is the fact that God told us to subdue the earth and look after it – we haven’t – we’ve put a massive hole in the protective layer God put around the earth!

· We are wasteful with resources and so we have what is called Global Warming, which is having a direct affect on the weather, and all because we abandoned God and His orders. Once again, where there was order, there is now disorder!

Proverbs 1: 27-33

· God does not sit in heaven and say ‘ I’m now going to stir up the winds into a hurricane’ or ‘ let me shift some tectonic plates under the sea and make a Tsunami’

· He is simply letting the universe go about its business

· Tectonic plates shift all the time – if they shift dramatically they cause an earthquake, if they shift under the sea, it causes a tsunami

· Warm air rises, cool air sinks we were taught in junior school – it’s a basic law of physics, and God made it that way so that we don’t all suffocate in hot stale air – he made a way to move it so that fresh cool air could rush in and replace it so that we could live.

· But when man messes with climate change and rebels against God’s way of doing things, even warm air rising and cool sinking can cause a destructive hurricane.

· We make a mistake when we try to understand God – the Bible says His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts – Romans 11:34 – ‘who has known the mind of God?’

· What is always true though is that every occurrence that we call a disaster, has always proven to be an instrument of God’s miracle working power – from 9/11; to the Asian Tsunami, to H Katrina and H Rita, God has shown His grace and mercy

· You might say ‘gee, some mercy!’ – the fact is, how much worse would it have been if there was no merciful God?

· Natural disasters cause people to take stock of their lives, and in each case many have come to know the Lord – I have already read reports of people turning to the Lord as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

· Disasters are also an open door for the church to rise up and show Christ’s love in action

· Remember – Romans 8:28

4. What can we learn from this?

· Colossians 1:17 tells us that in Him all things hold together – we might look at Sky News and think it’s all falling apart – it isn’t – God is watching us, and not from a distance either – he is Emmanuel, God with us.

· He is interested in the doings of man, He hates sin and He hates its consequences, but as I have explained before, freedom of choice includes the freedom to reap the consequences of your choice ( McD’s example)

· Disasters are a fact of life – as long as sinful man is around, there will be discord with God and all He has created.

· God has a plan that will one day be revealed to us when we are in heaven with Him, but in the meantime our task is to live lives that are worthy of His Name

· Will disasters come to England – well, we’ve had terror attacks already, but maybe we will have earthquakes and floods – the worst thing we can do is worry about what might happen

· What we need to do is make sure that our lives are right with God every day of our lives, so that if something did happen, we would be with Jesus

· Let us, as the believers in Jesus, not be panic stricken as the world is – we don’t live by the world’s standards

· Let us reflect the confidence we have in our God.

Psalm 57: 1-2