TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:22 ESV)
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• This week, a popular Christian musician announced that he no longer believes in God. This is a heartbreaking revelation that should cause every Christian concern. Friends, it’s further proof that we are living in the end times. Beyond the plagues, wars, famines, and other issues that Scripture tells us will be prominent in the end times, the Bible also says, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons…” (1 Timothy 4:1). I am deeply concerned about this man’s revelation, not only for his sake but also because of the impact it may have on other doubting believers and those who are curious about our faith in Jesus. After all, if we have prominent members of the Christian faith renouncing God, then why would someone who is curious about the issue continue to pursue it when our own people don’t even believe it anymore?
In response to this, we are having a two-week discussion on the various questions he expressed in his open letter and we’re calling this “The Hard Questions We All Ask.” They are difficult questions that most believers (and non-believers) have wrestled with at some point. I don’t have all the answers and some of what I have to say on these matters may not be satisfactory to those who refuse to accept some things on faith… but I’m going to do my best, with much prayer, to explore these questions from a Biblical perspective. I invite anyone to chime in. Yesterday, we talked about why evil is in the world. Today, we’re discussing this question: Why does a good and loving God allow natural disasters?
What are we defining as natural disasters? Floods, earthquakes, drought, storms like hurricanes and tornadoes. Then, not technically defined as natural disasters, I’m including disease, famine, and pain.
We’re going back to the Garden of Eden for this one. The world was pure perfection in its original form until sin entered the world. After confronting Adam and Eve about their choice to rebel against His instructions, God said to Adam, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:17). So from the original sin in the Garden, the world has been cursed. As we discussed yesterday, this is a fallen, broken world.
Let’s also go to Romans 5:12, which says, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…” Sin is so destructive. It’s a pervasive plague that not only impacts the individuals, but families, friends, and the very planet on which we live. It is a pandemic (to use a popular term at the moment) that has spread from generation to generation since the fall of man.
We also have to bear in mind that though God has ultimate say so and the final authority, the world is currently under the hand of Satan. God has permitted Satan a temporary dominion which allows for the “prince of the power of the air” (as Satan is referred to in Ephesians 2:2) to wreak havoc. Jesus even referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11).
Why does God allow Satan to have any rule in the world? I don’t know. It’s another one of those mysteries that we have to accept because God’s thoughts and ways are higher (and different) from our own (Isaiah 55:8-9) and whether we like them or understand them, His ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30). But it’s important to remember that Satan does not have authority over God. While I don’t know exact details — my belief is God allows it because sin is a direct result of Satan. And as long as sin is a part of this world, Satan’s destructive ways are a part of it. And why is Satan so destructive? Because he hates us — you, me, and everything God created. He is the father of lies and he instigated the first sin not to “make friends” with Eve, but because he wanted to see her ruined. He wanted to see her ruined because God loved her. He is jealous of God’s powers that created the world, and therefore, because he cannot elevate himself to God’s level, he seeks to destroy all that God created and called good.
What I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that Satan’s days are numbered. Things are getting progressively worse because Satan knows his time to create hurt and discord is coming to a close. The battle may still be playing out before our very eyes, but this war is WON and it was won 2000 years ago when Jesus walked out of the tomb.
Since the beginning of time, the world has been groaning under the weight of our brokenness and sin. While we don’t have a neat and tidy answer, the Bible tells us a new world is coming (Revelation 21). But here – right now – as we contend with floods, earthquakes, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, disease, famine, and pain, let us remember that the Bible compares all of this to labor pains. If you’ve ever had a baby, you know the tell-tale signs that come when delivery is imminent. And delivery from this fallen, broken world isn’t far off. Romans 8:19-22 says, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”
Let’s talk about Bethany Hamilton for a moment — the girl who lost her arm in a shark attack in Hawaii almost 20 years ago. While her courage in the face of adversity was (and still is) incredibly inspiring, she’s a living testament to everything I’m talking about. A shark attacked her. It wasn’t an act of evil; the shark was being a shark. God could have stopped it. It didn’t have to happen. But He allowed it, and as I’ve read about her story and testimony, the answer seems very clear to me. If she hadn’t lost her arm to that event that occurred when she was in the ocean, she wouldn’t have had a platform to share the amazing ways God has worked in her life. He used the experience to redefine her priorities and shape her to grow closer to Him. How many people have seen and heard of her testimony because of her personal tragedy? How many people have been inspired because of her faith? Her circle of influence was greatly magnified because of a personal tragedy. Bethany gave her testimony to Liberty University students in 2013 and said, “As I grew up with one arm and relearned how to surf, God taught me that He can take the hard times that I went through and turn them into something beautiful. I think that He can do that for each and every one of you. He can take what you have been through and use it for good if you are willing to share what He has done for you. It has been 10 years since I have lost my arm, and I would never take back anything I have gone through. I would never take back losing my arm because I know God allowed me to go through something like this to be able to come and share with you the message of hope in Him.” All of this because, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
So Satan may wreak havoc on the world and God may allow it. But God has already won and He will use any tragedy to His great and good purpose. We have to believe that. And if we doubt, we can look through stories throughout history, and even present-day stories like Bethany Hamilton’s to see God’s hand at work.
Today, as you pray, thank God that He is still in control, even when the world feels out of control. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the faith to trust, even when you don’t understand God’s whys. Ask Him to give you the opportunity to see things from His perspective, rather than the worlds.
SHARING ••• Please share with others! Visit www.MyGraceFullLife.com to read past blogs. ***Unless noted otherwise, all Scripture references are from the ESV translation.