God & Natural DisastersComment
Over the last few years, Australia has seen a lot of suffering - flooding in Victoria, northern NSW and Queensland; Cyclones ripping through northern Queensland; and catastrophic bush fires raging all over the country. It is happening in other places around the world as well, though with much less publicity following it. We've all seen the devastation that's been caused, the heartache felt and the lives lost. It's in times like these that many people say, “Why, God? Why allow this to happen?” If God is good how can he allow people to suffer like this?
There is lots that could be said here, pages and pages could be written. There are plenty of books that have been written to help answer these questions. I'd like to give a few thoughts that the Bible gives us in answer and then open it up in the comments section below so we can discuss it more.
We live in a world that has been hugely affected by sin. It's pretty clear to see that this world is not perfect. Suffering, therefore, is part of the nature of this world - we know it only too well. It is a world that has been messed up by ongoing sin – that is, rebellion towards God. It started with Adam a few thousand years ago, and continues to this day. We have all inherited the sin 'virus'. Sin affects who we are as people, but also the natural world - it's in a fallen state; the bible says the earth is in decay, and is 'groaning'.
We all feel the effects of sin, those who follow God are not exempt from the consequences of sin. Natural disasters are not judgments on certain people, the Queensland floods were not punishment because somehow they were worse sinners than everyone else, but rather the effects are universal. It is much like a family which might bear some of the impact of the wrong-doing of a husband or dad, or a community which might feel the impact of the sins of a few. What has happened in Australia over the last few years should remind us all of our own sin, for which we are responsible, and cause us to turn away from it. It should also cause us to have compassion on all those affected and not to become numb to tragedy because we are so used to seeing and hearing about it and also because the people involved are not personally to blame.
There are other points that could be made, but I hope this answers the common question of why disasters and suffering happen. Share your questions and thoughts below.