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“So,” I asked the little group of Christian men when we met together a few days ago, “was it the Lord’s will to flatten the Bahamas?”

“No,” one said. “It was just nature.”

“So,” I asked, “the Lord couldn’t have stopped it?”

“Yes. He could’ve stopped it.”

“Then He allowed it.”

“Yes.”

“Then it was His will.”

Questions lingered on this issue—the sovereignty of God—but all rightly agreed that we should have faith in God regardless of the circumstances or the source of all manner of disasters, whether personal or global. It was a good discussion.

I’m not sure Christians have clarity on this important topic. Recently, a missionary with a very important ministry in Southeast Asia wrote on his website:

“Why do so many Christians think that hurricanes and natural disasters are the will of God? ‘The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy.’ Jesus rebuked the storm sent to kill Him and it wasn’t sent by God! If the Father is sending and the Son rebuking, then their house is divided. No! The Prince and Power of the Air is the culprit. Rebuke that devil sent hurricane! As of this writing (Saturday, Aug 31st) Dorian is headed for central Florida, USA. In Cambodia, on the USA’s Saturday evening, the church will be in united prayer: ‘We command Hurricane Dorian to dissipate, break-up, turn and die! In Jesus’ Name, Amen! It would be so easy to just give up, and attribute whatever happens to God’s will.  But, not everything that happens on this earth is God’s will. Regardless of the adversities orchestrated by the ‘Prince and Power of the Air’ and whatever evil he throws in our path, Solomon says, ‘[we must] push on!’”

This man is right about a few things in this post, but his proclamation is biblically confused. It is true that Jesus rebuked the storm, and He knew its origin was not from His Father. It is not known that the storm was sent to kill Him—the text does not tell us this. When our brother in Southeast Asia commanded the hurricane to dissipate, break-up, turn, and die in his post, he laid claim to a power he does not possess, which was readily proved. Hurricane Dorian lingered after this declaration and completely destroyed some of the islands of the Bahamas. (As I write this, reports about the devastation continue to come in.) Sadly, many people died, and the tragic count continues. The damage was less severe stateside, but Dorian didn’t break up, turn, and die without catastrophe.

I have no problem whatsoever with praying for a storm to go away. Asking the Lord to be merciful. To help. To rescue. To protect. But to claim that all storms are from the devil simply is not scriptural. The times the psalms proclaim that the Lord sends rain and lightning are too numerous to list here. We know that the Lord sent destructive hail upon Egypt. He did so to Israel (Haggai 2:17). He will rain massive hailstones upon the Earth, which we see in the Book of Revelation. Here’s a great verse that plainly sums up the truth that the Lord God Almighty controls the weather: “He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses” (Psalm 135:7).1

Christians are uncomfortable with the truths in the three verses below, which they think cannot be reconciled with the New Testament’s God of goodness and love.

“I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

“Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?” (Amos 3:6).

“See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39).

However, these two seemingly contradictory truths can be reconciled. God is good. He is eternally and perfectly good. He was good in the Old Testament, and He is in the New. He was love in the Old Testament and He remains so in the New. He was and is perfectly sovereign and just. We will not know how all things were just and good and for His glory until we are with Him in eternity. We think suffering and death are bad. They are. But they are temporary. Everyone suffers. Everybody dies. It is how we live, suffer, and die that matter in eternity. Do we know Him? Do we trust Him?

 

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy giphy.com.