Although we might often worry about our civilisation’s potential to destroy the planet (see: The most dangerous moment), we easily forget that the planet also has an untamed ability to destroy civilisation too. For example, the earthquakes that have struck Italy recently, or the tsunami at Christmas 2004 which killed over 250,000 people!

Humanity has an enduring vulnerability in the face of nature. Which is why the prospect of there being an unstoppable, life-threatening change in our climate, for example, cannot simply be ignored.

Scientists may explain to us how such natural events occur, but it’s not their job to tell us why.

Why do they happen?

Society these days doesn’t explain such events as ‘acts of divine intervention and displeasure’. And only die-hard atheists are rash enough to use such events to rubbish any belief in the existence of God.

But we may still find it difficult to reconcile a ‘God of love’ with the damage God seems to let happen to something he created. We all struggle to make sense of disasters.

God gives his answer

The Bible records many occasions when God has used a ‘force of nature’ – rain, hail, fire, earthquake or flood – to achieve his purposes. For example, wars have been stopped, cities captured, and powerful people brought to their knees by ‘natural events’. Superficially, such events may look like the actions of ‘a vindictive god’. 

But God has a very beneficial ‘long-term plan’, a ‘purpose’ for his creation. Sometimes God uses the ‘forces of nature’ to move that plan forward, as his prophets make absolutely clear:

“If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?” (Amos 3:6 NKJV)

“I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.’” (Isaiah 45:7 NKJV)

God is not the ‘driving force’ of every natural event, good or bad. But God does sometimes use such events to achieve his purpose. Fortunately, anybody can be included in God’s plan for a better future, even those whose lives are cut short by natural disasters.

A real-life example

Facing terrible, personal disasters, but accepting the truth of those statements, a very rich man Job said this when he lost absolutely everything, including his children:

“Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10 NKJV)

Job accepted that God had blessed him before and – if God so wished – he would bless him again.

But above all, Job looked forward to something far better than anything this life has to offer. He looked forward to the time when all the world would be free from evil, including man-made and natural disasters:

“And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:26-27 NKJV)

Job’s hope of being resurrected to a better life helped him make sense of the personal disaster that brought him such great sorrow.

A promise to you too!

Time and chance happens to us all, whether it’s being blown to bits by a terrorist bomb because we ‘just happened to be there’, or swept away by a tsunami while sitting on a beach. But similarly, neither does winning the lottery mean we are a better person, more greatly favoured in God’s eyes than those less fortunate.

All of us are of equal value in God’s eyes and to us all – without exception – he has made this special promise:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17 NKJV)

Even though we all die, we can all share the hope of resurrection that Job had, because:

“He (God) has given assurance of this to all by raising Him (Jesus) from the dead.” (Acts 17:31 NKJV)

Resurrection?  Look at the evidence now, while you still have time.

Tomorrow may never come!