Where Is God When Disaster Strikes?
Hurricane Sandy has brought major disaster to perhaps 50 million people. A school bus crash killed two innocent children in Kentucky. When disasters strike, where is God?
As of Tuesday morning, Hurricane Sandy had killed more than 80 people in the Caribbean and the eastern United States and Canada. Millions were without power. New York City’s subways and tunnels were flooded, and the BBC reported that “the New York Stock Exchange will stay shut on Tuesday—the first time it has closed for two consecutive days owing to weather since 1888.”
Though she lost her hurricane status overnight, Sandy is still being called a superstorm and is projected to continue wreaking disaster on into Canada. U.S President Barack Obama has declared Sandy’s devastation a “major disaster.”
There are no minor disasters
As Sandy slammed into New York, New Jersey and surrounding areas Monday night, another disaster was occurring in rural Carroll County, Kentucky. My daughter, a teacher there, called to ask for our prayers about a school bus accident that occurred about 4:30 p.m. Details were sketchy, but the photos of the bus on the Internet were frightening.
This morning the Louisville, Kentucky, TV station WAVE reported on its website:
“Two children were pronounced dead at the scene, three were transported to Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville where they are expecting a fourth.
“One child was transported to UK Medical Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky; an additional three children were released to their parents after the crash. …
“Kosair released they are treating children for broken bones and head injuries. No additional information on injuries had been released at this time.
“The bus was on the way to drop children off after their head start program. The bus was equipped with seatbelts, and police said it appears all the children were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash.”
This devastating accident is sure to have a profound effect on the entire community. The extent of the disaster is not as large as the one caused by Hurricane Sandy, but the impact is no less major.
Where was God?
When disasters strike, a natural reaction for religious people is to pray. But it is also natural to wonder, why did God allow this tragedy? A good and loving and powerful God could have prevented the deaths caused by Hurricane Sandy and by the school bus crash, couldn’t He? So where was He? Why didn’t He intervene?
This is a question of the ages. Those who have asked it include not just the godless and irreligious. Some of the great people of faith have also cried out for an answer, and God has allowed those questions—and their answers—to be recorded in His book, the Holy Bible.
Questions and answers
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?” (Psalm 22:1).
Though King David had these thoughts and recorded these words, they were also prophetic. They were words that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, cried out during His crucifixion (Matthew 27:46).
Why did God not intervene even for His own Son? The answer involves sin, free choice and the decision of humanity as a whole to reject God. In order to accomplish His great eternal plan, God was willing both to allow humanity to make its own choices and to provide the ultimate sacrifice to repair the results of those sinful choices.
Why has God taken a hands-off approach?
You could say God’s plan for humanity is a high-stakes venture. God wants nothing less than for each of us to become His very children, to have His love and His character. He wants us to freely choose to live His beautiful and beneficial way.
But this requires that we have free choice. If He forced us to live His way, we would be robots and would not develop righteous character. His character can only develop when we have a real choice.
Sadly, with free choice has come a world overflowing with bad choices. It started with our first parents, who rejected God’s revelation of right and wrong and chose to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They chose for themselves and their children to try to decide on their own what is right and wrong.
And those wrong choices have piled up, producing the world of pain and suffering we see today.
But God has, at incredible cost, provided a way out. Jesus Christ came the first time to pay the penalty of our sins—if we will chose to repent and live His way. And Christ promised to come a second time to rescue humanity!
So, where is God?
This human experiment of self-destructive choices is nearing an end. God has promised that He will not let humanity annihilate itself, as we seem to be on the brink of doing (Matthew 24:21-22).
So, where is God now?
- God is always ready to comfort—He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3).
- God is eager to take our burdens and give us rest (Matthew 11:28).
- God is ready to forgive us and give us His Holy Spirit and help (Acts 2:38).
- God is ready and waiting to send Jesus Christ back soon to set up the wonderful, peaceful Kingdom of God.
Where are we?
God tells us where He is. He is near and ready to help. He also wants to know where we are.
Please go to Him in prayer and ask for His comfort and blessing for those facing disaster in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and those grieving in Carroll County, Kentucky, and elsewhere. Sigh and cry for the abominations brought by wrong choices in this world, and pray fervently for Jesus Christ’s return to bring a new world of peace. Seek God with all your heart and you will find Him and the answers He provides (Matthew 7:7-8).
Learn more about the reasons for suffering and the transcendent purpose for life in our section on “Life.” You need these important and comforting truths from the Bible!