Summary: Discussion about the earthquake and tsunami in SE Asia and Africa.
Why Does God Allow Tragedy?
January 2, 2005
As you all know, a major tragedy struck southeast Asia last Sunday. An earthquake registering 9.0 on the Richter scale set off tidal waves that hit 12 countries including India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia, where the death toll from that country alone is at least 80,000, or more than three times the population of Aberdeen.
Overall, the death toll is over 120,000, which is roughly the population of Sioux Falls. And of course, they will be digging through the wreckage for months, finding others who have died. There are many thousands missing, including many tourists from around the world.
The possibility of disease in the wake of this could ultimately bring the death toll into the millions.
Obviously this is a huge tragedy.
It would have been easy to just let this go and maybe have some special prayer during the service, and I had other plans for today, but I think God’s big enough to let me focus on this for today.
Today I want us to look briefly at three questions that I think are pertinent to this issue.
I want to warn you that there will not be a lot of humor, if any, in this message. Some of you aren’t sure I’ve had any anyway!
But this is serious stuff, and I think it’s important that we wrestle through some of this, if we want to not only have something to offer those who go through these things, but also to be able to hang onto when they visit us personally.
But I want to give you an invitation here: I want to invite you to struggle with these questions. Don’t pass them off. Don’t just apply "pat" answers to them.
Think through them, asking God for clarity in helping you deal with them. Are you brave enough to ask God the tough questions?
He’s not afraid of your questions, believe me. These type of heart-cry questions are all through Scripture, and even Jesus asked the Father why He had forsaken Him.
So let’s look at these, at least briefly
Why did God allow this tragedy?
There are three main opinions I have found over time to discuss this question. The first is this one:
God caused it, for either a testing or a punishment.
In days to come, disaster will fall upon you because you will do evil in the sight of the LORD and provoke him to anger by what your hands have made."
The second opinion is this:
Satan caused, to bring harm and destruction to those he hates - everyone.
Example of Job - Satan was behind all the calamity visited on Job.
And the third opinion is this:
God allowed it (though maybe not causing it directly) for reasons we may never know.
So which is it? I don’t know. It might be all three, or combinations of one or two, or it may have happened for reasons that fall outside of all these reasons. We simply don’t know.
But one thing I can say with absolute assurance: God is still in absolute control, and He can and does work in the midst of even such huge tragedies as this one.
Note: Jesus said all these things would happen before His return in Matthew 24:4-7 -
Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, `I am the Christ, ’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places."
Jesus is saying that even these have a purpose - to usher in His return.
So guess what? One way we can look at these types of disasters and see the ever-closer return of Jesus.
Bottom-line: assigning "blame" or "cause" is not the issue. Reaching out to those who have been affected is. And we’re going to look at some specific ways to do that in a little bit.
But let’s look now at the second question we need to address when we discuss what happened last week, and that is...
What is the spiritual hope of those who have
To those outside of Christ, this may seem like a heartless answer, but it’s true, and it’s Biblical. So here goes.
Let me give you the bad news first. All those outside of Christ have no hope. All who perished not knowing Christ as their Savior do not have heaven.
How can I say that? What about all the innocents who were killed? Well, let me first say that this isn’t easy to say. But track with me here.