While watching the scenes from a helicopter flying over the destruction of Hurricane Michael, it brought back memories of photos of Hiroshima. As of this writing, the death toll is 18 and expected to climb. One newsreel featured a couple who said, “Our house used to be here.” The camera panned across an open lot. Except for a few two by fours, it looked like a giant broom had swept away their home. In another news clip, the reporter said, “There used to be a street of homes here.” Again, a little bit of debris, but otherwise vacant lots. Other news clips showed mountains of rubble. As responders move deeper into the affected areas, the likelihood of the discovery of more victims is high.
Social media is already making statements and asking the “God questions” about the storm with its terrible devastation.
“Where was God when Michael arrived?”
“Why did God allow this to happen?”
“God is judging the United States!”
“A righteous God would never kill people and rip their lives apart like this.”
I will attempt to answer these questions and reply to the comments, but I guarantee I will not respond in a way that will make most people happy.
“Where was God when Michael arrived?” – God was there. God is everywhere at all times – Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”
“Why did God allow this to happen?” – I do not know.
“God is judging the United States!” – He might be, but I cannot say for sure. America has seen its share of natural disasters this year. The volcano in Hawaii is still spewing lava. As of Oct. 7, there have been 6,814 wildfires in California burning over 1.5 million acres. Arguably, the political climate of the nation is at its worst since the Civil War. When you compare the moral compass of the country to that of the Bible, it is at an all-time low. The judgment of God is a possibility, but to be dogmatic that the storm named Michael is the judgment of God; it is too soon to know.
“A righteous God would never kill people and rip their lives apart like this.” – God has more attributes than being righteous. He is loving; He is holy, He is just. As we have already seen, He is omnipresent. The characteristics of God are nearly endless, and they all work in complete harmony with each other.
Love and justice are two attributes that many people have a hard time comprehending that can co-exist. With justice often including some punishment or discipline and with love never wanting to inflict harm; how can the two go hand and hand and be in operation at the same time?
This confusion may come from a misunderstanding of why God instills discipline or inflicts punishment. God’s goal is for a change in behavior. Example – a parent is cooking in the kitchen. He sees his 2-year-old son standing on his tip-toes, reaching up to the top of the stove. The child may be burnt, or even worse, pull a boiling pot down on top of himself. The father yells. The boy stops, but a few minutes later he is at it again. Dad walks over, tells the boy “No!” and gives him a light smack on the hand. Being persistent, a few minutes later, the boy heads back in the direction of the stove. Dad, seeing what the child is about to do, picks him up, moves him to the next room, and places him in his playpen. The boy does not like being there and sits and cries until he tastes some of that delicious food dad was cooking. Everything the father did, yelling “no,” smacking the child’s hand, and confining him to the playpen is something the child did not want, but dad did it because he did not want the child to hurt himself. He was trying to change the child’s behavior – stop reaching up onto the stove. The father loves the child, in fact, every act of discipline the father did, was an act of love.
Also, something else to consider – Was God judging everyone in the path of Michael? – No, sometimes things just happen.
Jesus tells us that it rains on the just and unjust alike (Matthew 5:45). King Solomon reminds us that life is not fair and comes with a large amount of uncertainty. Ecclesiastes 9:11, “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
Our time and efforts at this point are needed in helping those going through the traumatic times of life. Whether it is the devastation of a hurricane or life-changing news from a doctor, or a thousand other things; there are people, all around us needing help. One individual cannot help everyone, but everyone should help where and when he or she can.
The questions and statements about God do need to be asked and addressed, but this will take prayer, fasting, and time before the definitive answers are, if ever, found.