A woman comforts a man who cries after discovering his shattered house and not knowing anything about his 8 relatives who lived in the house, missing in the aftermath of hurricane Dorian, in High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, on Sept. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Why would an all-powerful God allow hurricane Dorian to decimate the Bahamas?
An excellent question.
A friend posted that question, and got various responses. Here’s my comment:
Would you rather God be a robot? The fact that we don’t understand why things happen proves that God is God. He is much bigger than the human mind. Perhaps that is the point.
That didn’t change my friend’s viewpoint, or anyone else’s, for that matter.
But sometimes, as Christians, we try to explain the unexplainable.
It confuses people – including ourselves – when we do that.
Why does a hurricane act the way it does? Even more to the point, why did Dorian destroy the Bahamas and then bypass Florida?
Did our prayers to protect Florida get answered? If so, does that mean no one prayed for the Bahamas, or that God didn’t hear anyone who did?
No one can answer these questions. So, why do we even try?
Let’s acknowledge that God is God. We don’t understand everything He does. We don’t see the big picture of life the way the living God sees it.
We just don’t.
A family’s tragedies
A guy in his 50s at the church I attend died about a month ago. He was a strong Christian. He left a wife and four children, none of whom have a strong faith. He was their witness, their example, their leader in so many ways.
Why would God take him?
Then, I found out this week that one of his children, who had medical issues, also died.
What must the wife/mother be going through at this moment?
Where is God in this family’s situation?
Perhaps here is an opportunity for our church to be the church for this family. But is that really an adequate answer?
Perhaps we truly do not know why two family members died suddenly within a month of each other. But we try to explain the unexplainable.
This hurts our faith, and our witness.
Lifting up our hands
We think there’s an explanation for everything, don’t we? We can’t admit that we don’t know. That we can’t know. That God might allow something to happen for reasons we can’t fathom.
If there is an explanation for everything, then why believe in God?
We are our own gods, if we can wrap our minds around everything that happens in the world.
Yes, God gave us curious minds to learn new things. We discover new ideas and ways to live all the time.
By studying hurricanes, perhaps one day we will understand how and why they move, and be better prepared to survive them.
But will we ever have the capability to actually guide a 185-mph hurricane away from land and into the ocean, preventing severe flooding and loss of life and property?
Why do some parts of the world see more hurricanes, while others face tornadoes and still others severe earthquakes? And while we know where these weather catastrophes often hit, we still choose to live in those places. Is that God’s fault?
We love our tropical islands and beaches, sure. Nothing wrong with that. We live in New Orleans, even though it’s below sea level on a coastline. We live in Houston even though it’s solid concrete, and then wonder why it floods so badly during severe storms.
Were severe storms part of God’s original plan for Earth? I don’t think so, actually. The Garden of Eden was a perfect place in every sense of the word. Adam and Eve didn’t even need to wear clothes to live there. Temperatures and the climate were that comfortable.
Except for that wily serpent, who spoiled the party.
The serpent forced Adam and Eve to make a choice.
The choice they made got Adam and Eve kicked out of Eden. There were consequences. Man was forced to work hard. Woman was given pain in childbirth. The serpent was forced to the ground, and to be trod underfoot. Many other bad things followed.
Why did God allow so many bad things to happen? Because that is what we – Adam, in particular – wanted. God said, Fine. Have it your way.
All the bad stuff in the world is our fault, not God’s.
That’s a simplistic explanation, I know. There are spiritual forces at work that we cannot see. Very strong spiritual forces. For good and for evil.
And we can’t fix it. As humans, we don’t have the power to get rid of all the bad stuff that happens in the world, much less the spiritual world.
We try. We legislate morality, whatever that is.
We have no answers
We can’t even agree on what good and evil are, so there’s no way we can do anything about them.
That’s why some of us believe in Jesus Christ.
Not only did He tell us what good and evil are – I came not to abolish the law (the Old Testament), but to fulfill it, He said – He showed us what good and evil are by the life He lived.
However, even Jesus Himself, while He could explain the unexplainable, couldn’t bring it about in His own life. He died a horrible, painful death on a cross, and that would have been it.
Except that the living God, His Father, kept the story going. He resurrected Jesus, not only with a physical resurrection, but with a spiritual one. That allows Jesus to forgive our sins and mistakes.
If only we will accept that gift of forgiveness from Him.
This just might be the best explanation we get about how God works in this world.
But even that is above our comprehension. How do we explain death and resurrection? How is forgiveness of sins rational? Why can none of us find meaning in life unless we understand the reasons Jesus lived, died and lives again?
Even my friend who questions why an all-powerful God would allow a hurricane to devastate a country doesn’t have an answer for how the world works. He can’t explain it any more than I can.
Perhaps it’s time for us to acknowledge what’s real. How does the world work? That question doesn’t have a complete answer that we can know.
Our Florida friends are grateful, certainly. And they should be. Our friends in the Bahamas need help starting over.
Life happens. We can find God everywhere. Our responses to God, and to each other, are different in Florida and the Bahamas this week.
Because we worship a God who is bigger than we are. Much bigger. Sometimes we have to trust Him, because there’s no other way to understand Him.