"Bad Things" - Part 4
The fourth kind of bad thing that I want to consider here is natural disaster or chance occurrences. In Ecclesiastes 9: 11 we read that, "time and chance happen to all people." The Hebrew word for "time" used in this verse hints at eternity, because it refers to time that continues as well as is present. The word for "chance" literally means "occurrence of God." Isn't that interesting that eternity and events here and now happen to everyone?
Jesus said that God gives the sun and the rain to both the good and the bad (Matthew 5: 45b). So, good things and bad things occur to everyone. That's just the way it is.
Solomon also wrote that "one event happens to all" (Ecclesiastes 2: 14). I used to think that the "event" referred to death; however, the Hebrew word used doesn't mean "a final event," but rather "something met with; an accident or misfortune; an occurrence." Thus, when there is an event, like a natural disaster, it happens to everyone in the area, regardless of whether they are good or bad people.
In many cases, the Lord will protect or deliver his people. (I've heard of miraculous deliverances and rescues of Christians, and sometimes non-Christians, in various disasters in various lands.) But, generally speaking, the event happens to all. That's just the way it is. But why does God allow hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, floods, earthquakes, and forest fires to happen?
Many forest fires are started by careless individuals or by arsonists. God could intervene, but he refuses to rob us of our free-will. He could robotically control those individuals, but he will not violate their free will. Other fires are started by lightning, a natural result of a storm. Why are there storms? Storms occur when contrasting weather fronts collide or from other types of natural phenomena. I remember when "cloud seeding" first was experimented with. That was an interference by man on the natural world. (And, we could blame "global warming," pretending that humans have the power to control the elements of nature on a long-term basis, other than temporarily seeding a cloud.)
The natural geo-physical make-up of the planet allows for (or causes) earthquakes to happen and volcanoes to erupt. These happen more frequently and more intensely as time goes by, because the earth itself is groaning and crying out against the sin which has engulfed the world. Yes, that may sound strange to some readers, but Romans 8: 19-23 discusses this phenomenon, and likens the groaning to that of labor pains. The earth itself wants to be delivered from the presence of sin, which will involve the end of this present church age and the beginning of a glorious thousand-year reign of Jesus the Messiah and his people Israel. (But that's a much larger topic than I want to go into here.)
At any rate, events like this occur. We shouldn't take it personally, unless we were the one starting the forest fire or seeding the clouds. The Christian will take it from God's hand and rely upon the Lord to help him rebuild his life and property, knowing that God does restore just as he did to Job (Job 42: 12), making the disaster work for good.
And, quite often, those who do not know God will come to know him, as Christian relief groups, such as Samaritan's Purse and others, go into the devastated area to help.
Thus, God allows the disasters because he is working a greater and an eternal purpose in the lives of people.
Next time: The 5th kind of bad thing.
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