Did God Cause the Tsunami?

Have you ever noticed that when something good happens in the world, there’s credit abounding everywhere among mankind?  Credit for the medical breakthrough?  Man.  Technological advance?  Man.  Financial boon, peace treaty, natural discovery?  Man, man, man.

But when something bad happens, it’s always God’s fault.

Tsunamis are a case in point.   The reasoning?  People have no power for controlling the ocean’s force.  Only God has that kind of power so inevitably we reach the foregone conclusion:  it must be God’s punishment when the tsunami hits.  Then society asks the predictable question, “Why would God punish Japan or whatever country is involved?”

We miss the point when we go down that line of reasoning: this world is not meant to last.

Just as cars have warning lights when things are not working properly; just as nuclear reactors have certain predictors when danger is ahead; just as cell phones have signal strength showing the limitation of their range of reception, so also the earth gives signs that it was not meant to last. 

In blaming God, our great reasoning error is assuming that this earth is our final and greatest destination.  Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, wars, fires—all these things are indicator lights that this world is on its way to being obsolete.

The irony is this: those who believe in the inherent goodness and competence of man and do not believe in God at all—they are the quickest to blame the God-who-doesn’t-exist whenever disaster strikes. 

For those who do believe God exists and who ought to know there is a greater final destination (a new heaven and a new earth), they look to blame societal sins in answering the question “Why?”  Answers are on every corner: Shame on the capitalists, the gays, the divorce rate, the West, and the sex trade! 

Rather than agreeing that a nasty God is punishing anyone, Christians are supposed to accept these natural disasters as heart-wrenching longtime warning signs (Romans 8:22) of an earth that has been broken since Genesis 3.  These are signs that Jesus referenced in saying redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:28)—ones urgently pointing to a different final destination than this old, broken earth. 

The question that remains is whether we will give up blaming long enough to begin with a different line of reasoning—one that assumes this earth is not our final destination—and to prepare accordingly.

Categories Chapel Worship/News | Tags: | Posted on March 14, 2011

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  1. by Ima

    On March 14, 2011

    So, what are you saying? Did God cause it or didn’t he?

  2. by seminarygal

    On March 14, 2011

    Hi Ima,
    Thanks for asking. My answer would be “yes” and “no” because two different questions are involved.
    Yes, because God created the oceans to be vast, mighty, and rich with life.
    Yes, because God created the earth to be a vibrant life-sustaining planet.
    Yes, because God created the moon and its effects on tides and waves.
    Yes, because God followed through on forewarned consequences of sin. All of creation (the earth included) is now broken and cannot be repaired.
    So, yes God provided the raw material, but now it malfunctions on account of our broken world. This became the tsunami.
    No, God didn’t punish anyone. It is a natural consequence of a broken world and what God will be redeeming in the new heaven and new earth.

    By way of analogy, when a TV gets old and starts to malfunction, we can’t really blame a manufacturer defect or a design defect. It’s that it’s old and is simply malfunctioning. It has a “shelf life.” In a similar way, God created a good and perfect creation, but when sin came about in the Garden of Eden on account of Adam’s and Eve’s rebellion, the world began a malfunctioning process by which it is dying. Mankind likewise ages and dies. Humans are mortal and the earth is decaying. This is why the earth plates shift and the beauty and majesty of the ocean can become a terrifying and destructive force in which people die.

    Far from being a punishing kind of God, He grieves at all of this in His creation–the malfunctioning of the beautiful earth and the death of His image bearers: people.

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