With recent hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and other natural disasters devastating many around our world, numerous people are asking, “Why does God allow suffering through natural disasters?” The Bible does not record a direct explanation regarding the purpose of such events, but does address some of the reasons natural disasters occur.
Part of Life in a Fallen World
The Bible presents our world as good, yet imperfect. Part of living in a fallen world includes the natural cycles of storms across the globe. Inevitably, some natural disasters impact populated areas that harm or destroy lives. Sometimes God supernaturally protects people through a storm. In Acts 16:26, an earthquake shook a Philippian prison, freeing Paul, Silas, and the other prisoners, yet no one was hurt. God also spared Jonah and those in the boat with him during a great storm at sea (Jonah 1-2).
At other times, people and locations were not spared. Job’s family members were killed in a natural disaster (Job 1-2). In this case, Job had done nothing wrong. Instead, this event served as part of a much larger story of God’s work through His people during times of adversity.
To Draw People to God
A second reason God allows natural disasters is to draw people to Him. Sometimes, storms in the Bible were associated with judgment upon those who did not follow God. At other times, a storm simply displayed God’s power in a way that caused people to fear Him.
For example, when Elijah was on a mountain, he experienced a great wind, an earthquake, and a fire. God appeared to him after these events, speaking directly about an important time in Elijah’s life (1 Kings 19:11-13). His time of fear led to a moment of intimacy with God and a fruitful ministry to follow.
To Provide Opportunities to Serve Those in Need
Third, God may also allow hurricanes or other disasters to provide opportunities to meet needs. For example, there are already stories emerging from Hurricane Harvey that have united the nation. More specifically, stories are now being shared of people coming to faith in Christ and turning to God because of Christians who have shown up to help in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Whatever challenges you may be facing, please remember God is with you. You are not alone. God promises in Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” Our Lord sees your situation and hears your cries. We may not understand all the reasons behind the natural disasters striking our world, but we can trust in a loving God who is in control during the storm. As Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
With an understanding of today’s cultural issues, Christian theology and apologetics, dedicated John Ankerberg staff writers work together with internal and external scholars to provide real answers to the real questions asked by those wanting to know the truth about Jesus, the Bible and the Christian faith.
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