Listen To Awaz-e-Haq World Radio

To listen click on the "Play" button:

If you are in Afghanistan, Pakistan or India you may also listen via Medium-wave: Tune to 1467KHz at 14:30UTC. (That's 7:30pm Pakistan Time.)

Why Does God Allow Us To Suffer In Natural Disasters?

In category:

It is a rare thing indeed when, somewhere around the world, someone is not suffering as a result of a natural disaster. In one part of the world a volcano erupts and covers houses and fertile fields with hot mud and ash. Somewhere else there is a landslide which destroys a road. In still another place there is an earthquake which destroys a city. In another place a hurricane or tornado drives people from their homes. In another land, a cloud of locusts destroys the crops just before harvest. Somewhere else the waves rise and pull whole villages into the sea. Still elsewhere, a fire destroys the forest and consumes nearby buildings. The smoke from the flames makes it hard to breath. While one place is being destroyed by drought, another place is being swept away by floods.

The question is, “Why?” Why does God allow natural disasters? Why does He, each year, allow millions of people to suffer as a result of them?

When a natural disaster strikes, many people wonder if God is using the disaster to punish them. Indeed, this may be one reason why natural disasters occur. The Bible describes the period before Noah’s flood this way: “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth...”” (Genesis 6:5-7 NIV)

Similarly, when God gave the land of Canaan to the Israelites, He warned them what would happen if they did not keep His Law. He told them, “The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. The Lord will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The Lord will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are ruined.” (Deuteronomy 28:20-24 NIV)

In light of these, and many other passages of Scripture, whenever we are caught in a natural disaster we would do well to ask whether we have brought it on ourselves as a result of turning away from God. Are we reaping the consequences of our own sin and rebellion? If so, we need to repent and turn once more to God. “...for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” (2 Chronicles 30:9 NIV)

But our own sin is not the only reason we may be caught up in natural disasters. Disasters may occur for many other reasons as well. As King Solomon wrote, “I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11 NIV) In view of this, we should not automatically assume that someone who is affected by a disaster is being punished for sin. Nor, should we assume that those who are not affected are more righteous than those who are. In reference to some calamities which occurred in His day Jesus said, “...Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:2-5 NIV)

What, besides sin, might be the cause of a natural disaster? One of the causes is illustrated in the life of Job. The Bible describes Job this way: “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys. He was the greatest man among all the peoples of the East.” (Job 1:1-3 NIV)

Yet, in spite of being upright and blameless, Job suffered a series of disasters. His oxen, donkeys and camels were stolen from him by marauders who also killed his servants. His sheep, and their shepherds, were destroyed by fire which fell from the sky. All of his children, and those serving them, died when a mighty wind collapsed the house they were in. If this were not enough, Job lost his health. He was covered with painful sores from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. He was reduced to scraping his skin with pieces of broken pottery while sitting on an ash heap. Even his wife turned against him.

Why did all this occur? Was he being punished for some sin he had committed? His friends certainly thought so. Surely, Job must have done something to deserve all that he was suffering. In long speeches they tried to get Job to acknowledge and repent of his sin. For example, one of them said, “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.” (Job 4:7-8 NIV) Another of Job’s friends said, “Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right? When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin. But if you will look to God and plead with the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your rightful place.” (Job 8:3-6 NIV)

When Job protested that he was innocent; that he had done nothing to deserve the calamities which had come upon him, one of his friends retorted, “ What is man, that he could be pure, or one born of woman, that he could be righteous? If God places no trust in his holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes, how much less man, who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil like water!” (Job 15:14-16 NIV) Job’s friends even went so far as to list the sins that Job must have committed. But, was Job guilty? No! As we have already seen, he was blameless and upright.

Why, then, did Job suffer? Disaster came upon him because he was blameless and upright! Satan had accused him of serving God only because God had given him many material blessings. God allowed Satan to take everything away from Job, and even to ruin his health, to prove that Job served from pure motives and love, not for material gain. After Job had demonstrated his integrity, God restored his position and blessed him with far more possessions than he originally had.

Like Job, we may not understand why we are suffering. We may experience trouble and hardship even though we lead upright and righteous lives. However, the reason Job was able to endure his suffering was that he had a solid faith that one day, he would be redeemed from his suffering. He said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27 NIV)

The Redeemer which Job mentioned is Jesus Christ. It is only through Him that we can have hope for the future. It is only through His blood that we can stand before God. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (2 Timothy 4:18 NIV) The question is, Do you belong to Christ? Are you one of His followers?