Over the last two weeks, I have noticed a type of conversational undertow related to the storms that have pounded Texas and Florida. People have been offering up various reasons for the harsh weather. On one side there are the “climatologists” like Anders Levermann laying blame for the nasty weather on industries that have been pumping unprecedented amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. On the other side, there are people like Kirk Cameron saying that God is sending the Hurricanes. Then there are outliers to common sense like Jennifer Lawrence suggesting that mother nature is the source, showing “rage” against Donald Trump being elected as our President.
Instead of pointing to various contributing factors like CO2 (which I am confident could be real) or God (who is completely sovereign over everything); I find it helpful to point people to the origin of natural disasters. In other words, what was the initial cause that spawned the natural world to become so dangerous? The Bible presents a very clear reason – humanity’s craving to be like God. When Adam and Eve chose to effectively “play God” by disregarding His expressed will, it was not simply Adam and Eve’s relationship with God that changed but everyone and everything “downline” that changed as well. In Romans 8, Paul, in comparing his suffering as a prisoner in Rome with the rest of creation, expresses his longing for a day yet to be revealed in which things will once more be made right. Paul is expressing that the current condition of the natural world is not functioning as it was designed and that this brokenness is directly connected to the Fall of humanity:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:18-21.
When Adam and Eve sinned, God Himself, contrasts what life will now be like after their rebellion.
To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Purpose in Pain
Adam and Eve were given the responsibility to act as stewards of God’s creation. Therefore, after they rebelled from this role, everything in nature changed from nurturing and reflecting humanities relationship with God to now calling humanity back to God through the natural world. Nature will now function as a type of billboard that both reveals God existence (see Romans 1:18-20) as well as to bring difficulty in order to get our attention that something is wrong in this world. In other words, calamities like hurricanes are designed to make people come to the realization that they are not in control, that they are human in need of God and cry out for God. Who hasn’t been reminded that humanity is powerless against the the brute force of the hurricanes that hit Texas and Florida?
Therefore, it would seem to me that hurricanes along with every other difficulty we face as humans (emotional, physical, etc.), are meant to remind us of how frail we are and drive us to ask, “Why is this happening?” It is this searching for meaning that can drive us to the realization that WE are the reason for natural disasters. We are not God, we need God. As C.S. Lewis once said, “Pain is God’s megaphone to a morally deaf world.” As a Father disciplines his child, so God uses pain to draw our attention to what is right and what is wrong. Without moments like these, we would never seek after God because we would never need God.
What Can I Do?
Therefore, don’t simply pray for people to be safe, pray for them to come to the Lord and be saved from their sins. Don’t simply pray for people to recover, pray that God leads people into your life and that you have the boldness and courage to share our need for Christ:
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:24-27