Summary: In the face of massive natural disaster, what do we say in response to the question "where was God?"
Where Was God? Tsunami’s and Sovereignty
Isaiah 61 January 16, 2005
Intro: (video clip)
Romans 12:2 (NLT) says, “let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think”. What should we think about the recent disaster which has been the focus of much of the world since December 26, 2005? What does is say about God?? What does it say about us??? Does the Bible have anything to say about the issue????
To answer the last question first, yes. More directly than you might think: “The seas have lifted up, O LORD , the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea- the LORD on high is mighty.” (Ps 93-3-4).
Principle 1: God is Mighty
In thinking about the recent tsunami, that Scripture is principle 1: God is Mighty. We see that in nature. Most often we marvel at it – we watch a sunset, we hike to the top of a mountain, we catch a 27 pound Chinook salmon; but we are also terrified by it, as we have been over the past 4 weeks. It challenges our thinking about God – is God good? is God strong?; about life – is it really that fragile?; and about control.
Does that last one surprise you? As we affirm the might of God, what we are affirming is that God is in control, and that you and I are not. We don’t like that very much, do we? It is uncomfortable for us to be confronted with our essential helplessness, with our complete and utter dependence on God for our existence. I felt that as I watched numerous video clips – the water was everywhere, in every crack, in every street, in every building. It just came. The force and the devastation was from the sheer volume of water displaced by the earthquake, crossing an entire ocean and bringing us face to face with the raw power of nature. And our helplessness in the face of the power and might of God as seen through nature.
I think a little bit of discomfort about God is a good thing. As we are mindful of the might of God, we also see some of the wildness of God. God is not tame. God is not a gentle lap cat, who will climb up and purr when you pet Him. God is much more like a lion, like CS Lewis’ Aslan. We must be forever mindful that God’s might is not under our control, can not be tamed by us, and does not exist to pander to our desires, no matter how often we mis-quote Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
It is uncomfortable, but it is also true: God is mighty. More precisely, God is All-Mighty. All of the power of the entire universe is a mere reflection of the might of God, because God is the originator of it and the source of it. And next to that power and might, you and I feel very very small, and very powerless. Because, though we don’t like to say it, we are small and we are powerless. But, we are also adopted.
And that is precisely why the principle of God as Mighty is ok for all of us who have a relationship with God. God is almighty, He is awesome in power, and He has also invited us to be His children. And, by the way, that is also precisely why it is ok for us to not be in control. Because we are the children, God is the boss.
Principle 2: God is Good
That brings us to the next problem: if we accept principle 1, that God is mighty, and then take refuge in the fact that we are God’s children, does it necessarily follow that God should use all His power to protect His children?
Some narrow-minded, racist bigots would only go this far and conclude that disasters such as this one are God punishing all those who are not His children. That this is God’s vengeance, God’s judgment, against people who have rejected Him. I say, poppycock! This is a false portrayal of God as a tyrant, mindlessly wiping out hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom were God’s children. We cannot retreat into such simplistic conclusions.
We need to go to a more difficult place, and that is principle 2: God is good. In His very nature, His very essence, we must affirm that God is good. That was Jesus’ pronouncement: “No one is good, except God alone.” (Mk 10:18).
This is a sticking point for many who do not believe: they look at events such as the recent tsunami and say, “If God is able to do something to stop that kind of loss of life, and does not, how can you say that God is good?” An excellent question… anyone want to take a crack at an answer?