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  Alan Jones, Editor

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"Brightly beams our Father's mercy

From the lighthouse evermore;

But to us He gives the keeping

Of the light along the shore."

       Published monthly by the church of Christ, 35900 Palmer Road, P.O. Box 86-233, Westland, MI  48186     

Volume 5                                                                   September 2005                                                                                 No3 

 

IF THERE IS A GOD WHY ARE THERE DISASTERS LIKE KATRINA?

 

Hurricane Katrina was a catastrophe be-yond description.  Apparently thousands were killed.   The exact death toll may never be known.  Over a million people have been displaced from their homes.    Many of these no longer have a house or a job to return to.  Property damage is in the billions.  New Orleans is uninhabitable. 

                 Katrina is a vivid reminder that this world is not a “perfect” place.  Other disasters occur frequently around the world- tsunami, tornado, earthquake, fire, flood, drought, and pestilence.  And men face more frequent and prevalent miseries- sickness, accidents, birth defects, and aging.

                 In the Scriptures those things that bring suffering to the world are referred to as “evil”, especially in Ecclesiastes.  Some refuse to believe in God, while others doubt because of the “evil” of suffering in this world.  They wonder, “How could there be One who is “Almighty” if the world is full of ‘defects’?”  “And, if there is a God, how can it be said that He cares for man, when He has placed him in the middle of tragedy, sorrow, and death?”  These questions may have crossed your mind as you have viewed and read about the devastation and the tears caused by Katrina.  Let us look to the Scriptures for answers.

                 The book of Job provides us with the most extensive discussion of the problem of suffering.  The writing begins with a “behind the scenes” look at what transpired in heaven before Job’s suffering began.  God

 

asked Satan if He had considered His upright servant Job.  Satan replied that Job served God because of the abundant possessions He had given him.  So, God gave Satan permission to take away His possessions to see if, when he had nothing, he would curse God or continue to worship Him (1:6-12).  When Job did not renounce God, Satan asked to afflict Job personally and this, too, God granted.  Satan then smote Job with boils all over his body (2:1-7). 

                 This background information to Job’s troubles lets us know that “evil” is something God is in control of, but it actually stems from Satan.  Satan seeks to turn men against God with the “evil”, but God controls “if” and “to what extent” this can happen. 

                After Job and his friends debated the reasons for Job’s suffering, God spoke to Job out of a whirlwind.  He asked him where he was when He laid the earth’s foundation and set the bounds of the sea.  Had he ever brought the dawn of the day to the world?  Had he caused it to rain, hail, lightning, or snow?  Had he set in order the constellations?  Had he created and cared for the animal kingdom?  (chapters 38-41)  God’s answer to Job showed him that the tragedies he suffered were not due to God’s lack of power to prevent them.  And, the Creator’s answer also showed him that he was just a small powerless creature who should not question how the Almighty worked in his life.

IF THERE IS A GOD ... WHY KATRINA

So, if there is an Almighty God who could stop catastrophes like Katrina, why doesn’t He?  Why does He allow man to suffer?  Doesn’t He care?  The Scriptures point out that “evil” is present in the world because God does care.  The world was made “good” and man, the crown of God’s creation, was said to be “very good” (Gen 1:4, 10,12,18,21,25,31).  The “evil”, that is, all the things that cause man pain and tears, came into the world after Adam and Eve’s sin.  The consequences of their sin (Gen 3:16-19) reached beyond them- the consequences were more than a punishment to Adam and Eve for their disobedience.  God wanted all succeeding generations to understand the serious consequences of sin.

           When women have pain in childbirth, when men work with sweat in the midst of thorns to feed their families, when men die as the result of defect, sickness, aging, accident, natural disaster (e.g. Katrina), God is shouting, “Think about the consequences of sin!” Physical disease calls our attention the more serious spiritual disease. Physical death points to the more-to-be-feared spiritual death (separation from God, now and forever in hell).  Temporal suffering makes us want to avoid sin and the worse, eternal suffering it brings (Jn 5:14). 

                As God sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, He subjected the world to “evil” in hope (Rom 8:18-25).  This shows that His subjection of the world to suffering was both temporary and purposeful.  Even when God sent the sinful pair out of the Garden, He

 

was looking forward to the glorious revealing of His sons in bodies that would no longer suffer misery.  To see “evil” in its proper perspective, we must look at it from an eternal perspective.  When compared to eternal glory, all pain and suffering becomes “light”.   (2 Cor 4:16-5:10).

                 God uses “evil” to discipline His sons so that they may experience eternal glory..  The same trials that Satan uses to try to destroy our relation-ship with God- God intends to work for our spiri-tual good- to draw us closer to Him.  What we see as “disorder” in the world is part of His order.  What we see as a lack of His care is part of His care (Rom 8:28-31; Heb 12:5-13; Js 1:2-4).  Through “evil”, Job learned patience (Js 5:11), David corrected his life (Ps 119:67,71,75), Solomon understood the meaning of life (Eccl 1:12-15 & 12:13-14), and Paul remained humble, despite receiving glorious revelations (2 Cor 12:7-10).  To the servant of God, the “evil” of this world that brings tears is part of God’s care and, in the spiritual growth that results, he can rejoice. 

                Finally, in suffering, God shows His care for His sons by hearing their prayers (Js 5:13).  The Spirit and the Son add their interceding voices to these prayers (Rom 8:26-27, 34).  God gave His Son to die on that painful and shame-filled Cross for his sons. Would He then abandon them while they suffer or even when they die?  Nothing will separate them from His love!  Over all “evil”, even as catastrophic as Katrina, they are more than conquerors! (Rom 8:31-32, 35-39)



 

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