Summary: Catastrophes happen. As Christians, we need to be careful when assessing the cause of tragedy. It is natural to ask, “Who or what is to blame when tragedy or disaster strikes?” Let us examine this issue.
Whose Fault Is It?
When catastrophes or tragedies strike quite often we become like the disciples in John 9 when they met a man blind from birth. Their immediate reaction was that it was the judgment of God upon either this man or his parents. When the devastating earthquake struck Haiti many were quick to pronounce it as the judgment of God. As Christians, we need to be careful when assessing the cause of tragedy. Christ pointed out to His disciples that the blindness of the man they encountered was not a judgment on him or his family but an opportunity to show the work of God. It is natural to ask, “Who or what is to blame when tragedy or disaster strikes?” Let us examine this issue.
I. There are times when disaster is part of living in a fallen world
A. We have all heard the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Their sin moved God to make a series of declarations that transformed part of creation in addition to the pronouncements made to Adam and Eve. Prior to the fall of man, everything on Earth was in harmony. Since the fall, there has been conflict between nature and mankind. In Genesis 3:17-18 we read:
• Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.”
The entire earth would feel the effects of the sin of mankind. Before he sinned against God all nature was in harmony. But when Adam sinned, God cursed the earth, and it no longer was the perfect environment man had once enjoyed.
B. Many of the natural disasters that we experience are merely the consequence of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.
C. The law of entropy states that everything in the universe is continuously and irreversibly decaying.
D. The world is full of natural disasters because we live in a fallen world. Sin has polluted our perfect world.
E. Jesus said in Luke 21:11 “And great earthquakes shall be in different places, and famines and plagues...”
II. There are times when disaster is the result of Man’s actions
A. Man in his sin has failed to keep the command of the God given in Genesis 1:28.
• “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’”
B. The stewardship of the earth has been given to man. This responsibility is illustrated in Leviticus 25:2-8 where the Israelites were to rest the land every seventh year. But man has continually failed to obey God.
C. An example of this plundering of the planet is seen in the disaster ridden nation of Haiti. Once known as the Pearl of the Antilles for its beautiful forested mountains, Haiti is no longer covered with forests. Seeking to survive economically after the bloody revolution from France, in its poverty the nation began to harvest their forests to the place that less than 2% of the country’s original forests remain. The impoverished country depends on trees for 71 percent of its energy use: firewood in the countryside, wood charcoal in the cities. For an impoverished peasant, stripping the forests has become a way to get by. “If I’m a farmer and my crops are failing, what can I do?” said one peasant. “Do I die today? Or do I extend my life for the next few days by cutting trees and selling charcoal so I can buy medicine? So I can buy some fertilizer so I can grow some lettuce?” When the forests are gone, the slopes can’t hold on to their soil. Entire villages are lost to mudslides. Roads and bridges are damaged. The slums continue to swell. Haiti sinks deeper into poverty. Pressed to survive, another farmer chops down another tree. - copied
D. Man made disasters are the result of our imperfections and fallen nature. Another example occurred in 1969, a subsidiary of chemical powerhouse Union Carbide Corporation built a pesticides plant in the middle of Bhopal, India. On December 3, 1984, a tank holding more than 40 tons of toxic methyl isocynate overheated and released the heavier-than-air gas. It rolled along the ground like a poisonous foggy avalanche. To date, as many as 20,000 people have died. - copied