Hurricane from space,

What to do instead of determining God’s will in natural disasters

Hurricane from space,

Many evangelicals are (rightly) concerned about being a good witness to those around us. Most of us (I think) want to avoid being the thing that keeps people from even being willing to hear about Jesus. Just as Paul did, we want the only stumbling block to be Christ crucified.

And then we get on the Internet and something really ugly happens.

We write blog posts and tweets and status updates.

And, sometimes, when we do, it’s bad.

Like, really, really bad.

A friend of mine recently reminded me of this when he mentioned he read the first of what I hope are very few articles declaring Hurricane Matthew God’s wrath on Orlando.

Here’s the thing: I believe God is actively at work in all the world. I believe he has a reason for why the people of Haiti—who’ve been crushed by decades of government corruption, economic poverty, mismanaged foreign aid, and horrific natural disasters—are experiencing this hurricane. I believe there’s a reason Hurricane Matthew is going to hit southern Florida.

But my job is not to declare what that is because I don’t know. But I do know that writing about such events in this way can say a lot more about the state of the heart of the person writing it, than those affected by it.

Instead, what if we thought about these events this way: natural disasters occur because this world is not as it should be. It is a world broken by the presence of sin, subjected to futility. A world groaning, longing for the final restoration of all things.

And along with praying for the safety of all who are affected by the hurricane, what if these events are supposed to encourage us to pray for Jesus’ speedy return? What if we’re supposed to remember that he will bring about an end to all suffering and natural disasters, even as he puts an end to sin and death? What if they’re intended to make us long for the new creation, even as we look for opportunities to be compassionate toward those who are suffering?

I’m not writing this with an answer in mind because, like I said, I don’t know. What I do know is an end to them is coming. And when it comes, I will rejoice. In the meantime, I will wait, I will pray, and I will look for opportunities to help those who are affected.

Photo credit: NOAA (license)

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