Is it because God is angry at us?
Was there a particular sin that one too many people committed? (Just so you know God, most Floridians don’t consider Miami as part of Florida. Their sins shouldn’t count towards the rest of ours. And most of us don’t consider central-time zone panhandlers as part of Florida either.)
Is it because we didn’t pray enough? Or maybe because the right-coasters out-prayed us left-coasters?
I’ve always disliked when Christian leaders state why God did something. This was rampant after 9/11 (strangely enough Irma is coming on that anniversary.) Famous Pastors said it happened because of homosexuality, abortion, poor church attendance, and a dozen other reasons I can’t fully remember. They each slightly contradicted the other (because homosexuality and abortion are kind of opposite issues.) Did God actually tell them the reason for that calamity? Or was it just a guess? That seems like a really bad idea, guessing why God is doing something. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally down for God bringing judgment. He’s totally allowed to do it. He can do whatever He wants. But when He is trying to get a particular message across he has no problem doing it. He uses miracles, prophets, signs, wonders, and warnings. If He doesn’t make His intentions clear it means He either doesn’t want us to know or He has millions of reasons for millions of different people.
So back to big, fat Hurricane Irma. Why did God send her? Is it punishment or a lesson? Was it brought to bring us to greater dependence? Is it a random atmospheric event we must face due to the fall that God chose not to divert? How do we know the answers to these questions? Let’s break it down:
Is it a punishment or lesson?
God certainly could be teaching individuals something but there certainly doesn’t seem to be a collective message meant for a large swath of people. God would have called His shot if there were something He wanted us all to know. He’d make his audience known (believers, unbelievers, Seventh Day Adventist Vegans, or whomever.) Hurricane also seems like a poor method – a lot of collateral damage if the message is narrow, and then not big enough if the message is for a broad worldwide audience.
Was it brought to bring us to greater dependence?
Well, I guess it’s fair to say that God is always trying to bring greater dependence to His people. Hurricanes are good tools I guess because whether we all point our fans at it or shoot at it, nothing is going to move that hurricane. So we are relegated to prayer for our selves (if we stayed), our friends and family, and our stuff. We cry out to the only one who could stop that storm with a word or a nose wrinkle (ala Bewitched for those who weren’t subjected to Nick @ Nite as a kid.) So I guess God could be just trying to teach us dependence but that’s a super soft answer because God is always doing that. God doesn’t have some kind of “Dependency Meter” that when it gets too low He pulls the Catastrophe Lever.
Is it a random atmospheric event we must face due to the fall that God chose not to divert?
So sure, natural disasters are a result of “the fall of man.” If there were hurricanes in the Garden of Eden it would be for wind surfing purposes only. (If indestructible that sounds awesome.) I don’t know about other arm-chair theologians such as myself, but I always struggle with the line between what God ordains vs. what He allows. For instance, did He allow Irma to form or did He stir the waters with His Mighty Hand to create that cyclone of death (interestingly “Irma” is German for “Goddess of War.”) Some say the distinction doesn’t matter, but part of me feels like it matters at least a bit. What I feel like I can say for certain is that there is nothing random about any event. I’m fine with God causing it or allowing it, but Scripturally He is not a passive participant. He is active. He’s always working for His Kingdom and His Glory. So no, I can’t get on board with Him not having a greater purpose.
So what does this leave us with?
The most important truth of all. He wants to proclaim His Great Name. I don’t have to understand why He does certain things. I just need to display Christ-likeness in the midst of the storms. No one can see faith, until tragedy strikes. It’s in the darkness that our light is more clearly seen. Can we love when no one else would? Can we have joy when no one else could? Can we have peace when no one else can? Can we have patience when no one else does? So I can confidently say, on top of anything else God might be revealing to you and about you during this hurricane, I guarantee He wants you to proclaim His name and let others see your good works so they too might glorify our God in Heaven.
What do you all think? Any more thoughts? Head to the comments section.