Does God Control Natural Disasters?

I’m sure most of us have watched with near disbelief the news of the effects of devastating floods that engulfed towns and taken lives across Queensland this week. No one could have anticipated the so-called inland tsunami in Toowoomba, nor the flooding of Brisbane. It was shocking to see land, houses, cars and people simply swept away in the torrents.

In the face of such tragedy we can easily say, “I am not affected; who cares. It’s just another natural disaster;” turn over and go back to sleep. Yet, I’m sure we were driven to pray. Many of our fellow Aussies are in great trouble right now and we cry out to the Lord to watch over and protect our nation. Some of us will also give. It is good to see Australian Baptist Ministries (BUA) opening its National Disaster and Relief Fund to channel specific giving to local Queensland Baptist Churches and their care initiatives.

What these disturbing natural disasters remind us is that we have little control over the circumstances of life. We can’t control the weather or the economy. We can’t control what other people say about or do to us. They also raise again questions like, “Does God control natural disasters?” and “If God is behind such disasters, how can such a God be either just or loving?”

Despite what many believe, that poverty, disease, and natural disasters are the just punishment of a righteous God, Jesus taught otherwise. In his famous Sermon on the Mount, he urged people to look beyond the surface of circumstance to see God differently. Rain, natural disasters, and the weather don’t discriminate between good and bad people (Matthew 5:44-45). Jesus taught that God is exactly the opposite to the expectations of many people. God loves and cares for all.

The prophet Isaiah also saw this hundreds of years earlier when he endeavoured to comfort the people of his day with the assurance rather than seeing the hand of God in every misfortune, they should be assured of God’s presence guiding them through the eye of any storm. Isaiah writes, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:2); a very apt verse for our brothers and sisters in Queensland.

It is the reality and good news of God’s love that inspires Christians not to wonder what flood victims may have done to bring the wrath of God upon themselves, but instead join in bringing comfort and relief to the afflicted. So let’s be diligent in our prayers and our giving for the many people facing uncertain futures today – that in the midst of their misfortune they may discover a God who cares and understands.

What do you think? I would really value your comment.
Stephen L Baxter

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5 thoughts on “Does God Control Natural Disasters?

  1. Paul Evans says:

    Can’t agree more Stephen,

    Let’s weep with our and for our Queensland countrymen and let’s do what we can; both in prayer and in giving. Let’s walk with them through their time of pain. Let’s stand alongside them during an extensive period as they attemtp to re-build shattered dreams & shattered lives.

    Mercy mercy mercy is my cry.

    • Adrian Reader says:

      Yes, well said…
      Let us also pray that through disaster, suffering and loss of life those affected who do not know God can start to ponder the mortality of life here on earth and look heaven-ward in a bid to discover more about what is to come! So often people who do not know God choose to speak to him in curses at such a time as this, not realising that God has been craving a relationship with each and every one of them where they speak with him daily and seek the grace he has to offer.
      I myself must be careful what I say, I am guilty of spending very much less time with him than I should, but I am at least devoting more time recently to praying that more people get to know and love God out of these disasters than those who want to blame him.

  2. kim says:

    interesting thoughts. its scary to see all the Christians blaming the natural disasters on Gods judgement. God’s love reigns supreme.

  3. Kel says:

    Perhaps we need to be cautious about saying that God’s hand is not in natural disasters. To begin with, the Bible teaches the sovereignty of God — so we must be careful to not dethrone God and replace Him with “Mother Nature” as the secular media constantly do. Second, we know from such examples as the book of Amos that God has in the past used catastrophes to work His purposes. Thirdly, we know that the Bible speaks of God’s judgments as happening more than once: e.g. there is the individual judgment each person faces at the moment of death, plus there is the great final judgement at the end of time when Christ returns, plus there is the judgment that God passes when he leaves people to the consequences of their sin (Romans 1) and so on.
    While we cannot speak with authority (since Scripture is complete and closed, it is “the whole counsel of God”) neverthless perhaps we should not leap in the opposite direction and confidently claim that there is no judgement from God in so called “natural” disasters. Caution in our pronouncements is called for here.

  4. Janet Schultz says:

    Well put Stephen. I’ll look forward to reading more of heaven2earth. I shall ponder on the walking backwards concept. Thought that was only accountants! Maybe there is something in this….

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