Hurricanes, Tsunamis and the Problem of Evil

On August 29th, 2005 Hurricane Katrina made landfall and devastated much of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The total devastation will take weeks if not months to realize. The official death toll continues to rise as bodies are discovered in the muddy water that was formerly known as New Orleans.

My heart broke, along with yours, as I watched report after report of the worse than anticipated aftermath of this devastating hurricane. It seemed like every station from Fox to CNN to MSNBC to local news stations were on a constant disaster watch, every report seeming to uncover more horrific levels of absolute devastation. From loss of homes to loss of life Hurricane Katrina shocked and rocked this nation.

On a nature level, it seems like catastrophes are back. It wasn’t all that long ago Florida was ravaged and raked by a series of horrible hurricanes. And we all remember the shock of the tsunami in Indonesia.

On December 26th, 2004 the world was shook by the most devastating earthquake in four decades on this planet. Massive waves destroyed entire villages and swept away tens of thousands of people from India to Indonesia.

I wept with the rest of the world as I watched replay after replay of the absolute and total devastation that destroyed so many lives that day. When something like this tsunami or Hurricane Katrina unleashes on everyday people happens the most fundamental question of the universe catapults to the forefront of our minds...

Why?

Why did some live while others drowned?

Why did children have to die?

Why did this have to happen?

And the most disturbing question of all…

Why did God let this happen?

There is no easy answer and I don’t propose to give one here. As the apostle said, “Who can know the mind of God?” Not me or my puny brain, that’s for sure.

But there are some raw realities that can help us hope and cope in the aftermath of such a horrific human disaster. Here are a few:

God doesn’t view tragedy like we do.

While we see death as tragedy God sees it as transition. The loss of life at the blustery hands of Hurricane Katrina wasn’t the end but the beginning, the dawn of a new existence, the start of a new journey. Those Christians who died that day may have left this earth with a scream but entered the gates of heaven with a song on their lips. Theirs was a triumphant transition into the very presence of God. For the children of God who went home to their Daddy that day they wouldn’t come back to earth if they could. They are happy. The real tragedy was that many of those who were swept away by the wave that day died without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. From the divine perspective this was the true tragedy. They’ve were ushered by one catastrophe into a bigger one...eternity apart from God.

In the aftermath of the worst devastation God often does his biggest miracles.

We have already heard some of the amazing stories of people who saved lives at the risk of their own and of separated families who were reunited. We are already seeing the miraculous outpouring of prayer and provisions from people all across America. But most of the miracles we will never hear about on this side of eternity.

Human tragedy is almost always followed by miraculous transformation in the pages of Scripture. Consider the story of the world-wide flood. When the planet and everything and one on it were destroyed by a flood God brought about a new existence for mankind through Noah and his family. He wiped the slate clean through destruction and gave mankind a fresh start. Every rainbow is a reminder of this. This may be the biggest example but there are countless more in the Bible…

From the ten plagues in Egypt God delivered his people from slavery

From the destruction of Jericho came the birth of a new nation in a promised land

From the death of Christ came the salvation of all mankind

From the horrific judgments in Revelation will come the eternal kingdom

But perhaps the biggest truth to ponder during these times of tragedies is the simple reality that, ultimately, Hurricane Katrina is my fault and yours.

This may sound preposterous. We have nothing to do with hurricanes, earthquakes, tidal waves and the massive loss of life in a “natural” disaster. Right? Wrong!

Every natural disaster started with a supernatural tragedy, the fall of mankind. When Adam sinned he opened the door to catastrophes, to hurricanes, to tornadoes, to tsunamis and to death. The Bible says in Romans 5:12, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned” Romans 5:12.

Think about that last phrase, “death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” The real catastrophe is the chain reaction of transgression that Adam and Eve unleashed on this planet when they ate of the fruit in the Garden of Eden. Up until then there was no death or disasters. The real disaster was when the first man and woman disobeyed God. We continue that legacy of destruction every time we sin. It is Adam’s sin and our sins that overcomes the levees of restraint and allows the flood of catastrophe to inundate our lives, our cities and our planet.

Someday God will completely triumph over evil. On that day, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" Revelation 21:4. For those who are God’s children through faith in Christ there will be no more natural disasters, hurricanes, tsunamis or sin. For those who are not it will be an eternal catastrophe.

What can we do now?

We help the hurricane victims through our financial gifts and our fervent prayers. We share the good news of Jesus with everyone we meet before the hurricane of eternity apart from Christ envelopes them. And we trust in a God who we may not understand. Why? (There’s that question again!) Because he allowed his Son to endure the ultimate tragedy so that we wouldn’t be blown away or swept away by eternal destruction.


Founder and president of Dare 2 Share Ministries, International (D2S) Greg Stier has made an impact on the lives of tens of thousands of Christian teenagers across the country through Dare 2 Share conferences, where he equips youth workers and leaders to be effective in sharing the gospel. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries, please visit www.dare2share.org. Find out how Dare 2 Share Ministries and Focus on the Family® are working together to capture the hearts of this generation of teenagers, visit www.capturetheirhearts.com Send feedback to greg@dare2share.org.