Is God Behind Every Disaster? (#600)

Two major hurricanes have already assaulted Caribbean islands and the United States mainland this year. Every time a major disaster like this hits, someone speaking in the name of God positions it as God's punishment to command repentance or humility. Is that true? Does God roll hurricanes at the U.S. like bowling balls to teach us a lesson or to punish us for some sin? Brad and Wayne discuss all this in response to an email and look at what Scripture has to say about disasters as God's judgment. They also end up wandering into related topics like unanswered prayer, and why so many prophecies about coming disasters are wrong, ill-timed, and unable to communicate the life of God to people.

Podcast Notes:
Kirk Cameron's Comments on the Hurricanes
Helping with Agriculture in Pokot
Add your voice to our question/comment line via Skype at "TheGodJourney"

25 Comments

  1. I’m so glad you all addressed this Kirk Cameron video because I’ve been stewing about it. I think Kirk is doing much to hurt and divide our society. The passage Kirk read from Job 37:11-13 was Elihu speaking. However, in chapter 42 God speaks and says, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” Clearly Elihu would blame the hurricanes on God because he says in verse 13, “He brings the clouds to punish men, or to water his earth and show his love.” Well…which is it?! To punish? or show his love? Perhaps scripture actually reveals man’s misunderstandings about who God is too. In fact, when Jesus came he said, “no one knows the Father(Elihu didn’t)…I came to reveal him…” And in Heb. 1:3 it says, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son….who is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being etc…” So if we see God through the “Jesus Lens” as Wayne teaches–did Jesus send a hurricane to punish the prostitute? or any sinner? No…he always showed grace to them. He, instead, bore our punishment! What would be the motivation to love a God who comes to kill, and destroy with a hurricane? Fear. But as Wayne is always teaching, “perfect Love casts out fear.” Kirk’s message just brings fear and does more to harm the message of the good news than promote it.

    • I love it when someone like a Kirk Cameron feels he has to defend God with his statements.

      God can defend Himself, thank you.

  2. If I pray for a speedy recovery for Sara or anyone else, I absolutely expect her to recover quicker and better than if I hadn’t prayed.
    Looks like we’re on different pages here.

    • I also believe if someone prays for quicker recovery it can very well happen …I’ve seen it happen many times just recently to my mother…she had shoulder replaced and docs couldn’t believe how quick she was recovering and strong she was…I believe it was prayer…God’s compassion to her knowing she hates to sit still and how crazy and depressed she would have been if it would have taken a year like docs said but took 6 months for her to be strong again…she also worked out hard and the docs said it was due to her strength training before the surgery. Hallelujah! I am careful not to pray a quick recovery without a full quality recovery too ha! The Spirit will lead us as we yield when praying on how to pray:) been praying for Sara and Wayne…and often praying grace and strength for Wayne as he takes care of Sara in this season:).

  3. Robin, I agree. When I pray listening to our Fathers heart I do expect to see His hand at work. I also have times when I say an expected prayer when I’m not really listening (man-pleasing), those I notice there is not the expectancy.

    God does nothing without giving warning first. Way too much superstition in all of us, and not the resting in Him.

    BTW, I didn’t see the moon anywhere around the sun before or after the eclipse. I live where it was 99.5% full eclipse. We were told the moon caused the eclipse and so we assumed… Look at photos with various filters, there is no moon there. So what caused it?

    • Rory,
      Since the side of the moon that faces us just before, during, and just after a solar eclipse is experiencing nighttime, it is not visible to viewers here on earth. However, we do see it’s silhouette when it passes in front of the sun. I hope this helps.

      ~DZ

      PS I also live where it was 99.5% full eclipse. I traveled to where it was 100%. There’s nothing like it. I hope you get to see the full totality of the next one in 2024.

  4. i see things very simply…if it’s not love; it’s not god’s doing. what i hear from those who want god to be love, and want to hold on to the biblical view of god, is this: [in the first breath] god is love, and [in the second breath] god did some horrible act of judgment on the people. i can’t understand how others can’t hear the dissonance in this. is god sometimes severe? i guess if you believe he did the things attributed him in the bible, then yes. if you believe god is love, then you have a whole lot of problems trying to justify how a god who’s nature is love (meaning that he cannot not be love) did those things. i wish someone could explain this to me because i just can’t understand how we can hold to what appears to be mutually exclusive beliefs about god.

    • The only way i can explain it is that god doesn’t have the power to stop horrible acts from happening. They don’t happen because of him, but in spite of him. This is a belief held by Rabbi Harold Kushner in his book ‘When Bad Things Happen to Good People.’

    • God does not desire that any should perish (eternally in the lake of fire). A healthy fear of Him who will judge each one of us is not counter to God being love. How can love desire to see us suffer eternally? I fear God’s judgement, therefor I want to run as far from it as possible so I run to Him who is my refuge and shield. A healthy fear of God is cannot be disassociated from Him anymore than God’s justice nature can be! God is just. God is love. These are parts of His eternal nature that we see dimly. To cling to one and deny the other is to lie about God.

      “The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” 2 Sam 23:3 “… and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.” Is 45:21 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” 1 Pet 3:18

      Heb 12:6 “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.” Heb 12:28-29 “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Pet 4:17

      Fathers and judges (good ones) receive a reverent fear of their justice because they are just. Knowing that those who are disobedient will be punished – this is a good thing. Those born again have a refuge in Christ Jesus for their souls, however if a believer were to commit murder he/she would be punished. Where did we get our idea of justice? From God! Our justice system was founded upon God’s just-ness as found in His Word. It is greatly corrupted today, but God does not change, He is still just in all His ways.

      • Roel, i don’t believe fear and love mix well. if one comes to god through fear of him, he may respect god, but he will never love god. i think most of us on this blog probably believe that god draws us to himself by revealing himself as love; not through fear.
        as for his nature, i see god as love, period…everything else comes from this nature of love including his justice, wrath, etc… as for justice, i now see god’s justice as being purely restorative (restorative justice being that which uses only the positive force of love and not the negative force of punishment and fear). i no longer believe that his justice is retributive, and this is where i deviate from the stories in the bible that attribute retributive violent judgment to god. from my perspective, retribution and violence don’t fit with perfect love. so, my question still remains, “if god is love, how can we hold that he commits violence and/or allows evil for the express purpose of judgment?” [please, don’t read any frustration into these statements. personally, i’m not one that believes everyone needs to hold to my worldview…i’m not here to argue, but merely try to understand]

        • “if god is love, how can we hold that he commits violence and/or allows evil for the express purpose of judgment?”

          I would think the answer would be, ‘we can’t’. God as man had violence committed upon Him which lead to his physical death. A much different scenario than the revelations that played out earlier in the Bible, in which God was dealing in much different circumstances. Just my opinion, but I believe we need to see things in their context, rather than a fixed point, to gain a better understanding. Like Wayne has said, God has done (and is doing) much to redeem a fallen world. His methods we may not always understand, but we can take comfort in knowing that His purpose is for our good.

          I think I may have misunderstood your initial question, in my attempt to discredit God’s power in expression of His love, instead of contrasting it with His wrath. In seeking to understand, I failed in being understood. Miserably I’m afraid…

  5. If you believe God is sovereign and all-powerful, than it follows that he either causes or allows events to happen, such as the recent hurricanes. Otherwise they are just ‘random’ events caused by nature without existence of a god. Does it follow then, that we attribute meaning to these catastrophic events the likes of a Pat Robertson or Kirk Cameron? Not necessarily. They may have meaning in God’s grand scheme and his timetable, but it is way beyond what I can personally fathom. Anyone that claims that they can speak for God is, in my opinion, lying to themselves. The bible does speak to signs of the end of the age (such as wars and rumors of wars) but in God’s kingdom where a day is a thousand years, and we have been in the ‘last days’ since Jesus’ departure from the earth two thousand years ago, I suspect we have a long, long way to go.

    • Ron, ease up a bit. You don’t have to comment on every post here. It is possible to believe in an all-powerful and all-loving God working inside his broken Creation to bring it to redemption. Kushner’s book set up a false dichotomy. Only one thing or the other could be true. I reject the premise. There are things going on inside of God that we can’t begin to contemplate. People ask why God isn’t stopping these things and I say he has been since the fall, working inside the creation to bring it out of the darkness and into his light. Could he override every twisted thing in the Creation and make sure nothing bad ever happened to anyone? I don’t think he can without violating what he designed. There’s a way to rescue his Creation and he’s actively bringing that to resolution and the pain in it causes great pain to him as well. Much more than any of us know.

      • I reject Kushner’s premise as well but in response to Kent, I believe its a start. I read the book and saw how Rabbi Kushner came to his conclusion. I couldn’t imagine having to deal with a child with such a condition as progeria. I think of something your friend Tom Mohn said in one of your first podcasts about heresy. I don’t think we should be so afraid of it, as long as it eventually leads us down the right road.

        My apologies for my zealousness…I’ll stop here.

  6. I find it blasphemous to assume that God rains disasters upon the earth for any reason. Disasters bring death and misery, poverty and loss to men women and children and the poorer they are the more they lose and the harder it is to recover. Disasters slaughter the innocent and bring appalling suffering. God as always is present with us all in every circumstance of life and empowers us to hold fast to all that is good. There are often lessons to be learned from disasters. e.g. corrupt builders that short-change on construction, greedy developers that build on swamps and damage natural protections as in Katrina, the very wealthy who often impoverish the poor leaving them with few resources to plan or protect themselves. If we claim God orders the disaster we have to ask – what of North Korea that enslaves half its population or the US in Cambodia destroying a nation or the British in Kenya ruining a population or Saudi Arabia the largest financiers of terrorism in the Middle-east? The increase in severity and frequency of storms owes more to climate warming than any action of God who is just and fair, who loves all people and never seeks the death of a sinner.

    • Going back to Kent’s premise that how can you hold two mutually exclusive beliefs about god, that he is a god of love yet causes horrible disasters to happen, how can God be a God of love, yet allow the existence of corruption of wealth and evil leaders and terrorism and the like? If God truly had the power, could he not stop all these things? He must not.

  7. Speculation can be fun banter as a small group or a few friends shoot the breeze around such themes, but they wouldn’t ever let it separate their friendship. Depths into the unknown, to know God is not to know all…, or to even strictly believe we can… Let us rest within the love we know he has expressed, and love those around us in the same way. Knowledge will one day pass away, and if love considers no wrong to interfere with it’s expression, how can what we don’t know really matter? In him we are secure, where love has overthrown the knowledge of good and evil, his kingdom now dwells. There is no end or final answer concerning good and evil which will turn us to God, but to help justify what we have probably already set as what we believe. In my short tenure, I have previously embellished such academic philosophical expressions to merely convince myself that I knew more than I actually did, I did not; and none of it really mattered where my relationship with Father was concerned. This is just two guys talking about life, who happen to have recorded it to share with others. Peace, out…

  8. Ron said in one post, “The only way i can explain it is that god doesn’t have the power to stop horrible acts from happening. They don’t happen because of him, but in spite of him.”

    Wrong, God is the Almighty, all powerful Self-existent God of creation. Nothing is too difficult for Him. Ron, you have a devalued, humanized view of God. He is not weak like us. Just because we don’t understand all His ways let’s not ASSUME that He can’t do what we think He should do. His ways and thoughts are extremely higher than ours. That thinking is rooted in Gnostic Philosophy, a heresy, whether we realize it or not – ie God is just an exalted man.

    And he said in another, “I think of something your friend Tom Mohn said in one of your first podcasts about heresy. I don’t think we should be so afraid of it, as long as it eventually leads us down the right road.”

    I don’t know what Tom Mohn said about heresy, but heresy by definition is opposed to, and a rejection of, the truth who is Jesus Christ.
    “I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” 1 John 2:21 “NO lie is of the truth!” Not believing God is disbelief. Rejecting truth is rejecting Christ Jesus who IS THE TRUTH. We are in an age of apostasy, deceit and reprobate philosophy. We have been indoctrinated with it at least from Kindergarten, Relativism and Luciferianism – there are no absolutes and man will decide himself what is true for him and not (yea, hath God said?). Aleister Crowley said, “Do what ever you want, that is the whole of the law.” Just what we see today. Sad!

    “And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.” 2 Kings 17:15

  9. I suggest your readers study an exceptional book by Jonathan Sachs entitled ‘Not in God’s Name’ – available from public libraries and Christian bookshops. He demonstrates from the Hebrew Scriptures that there is no case for violent attitudes or action based on God’s revelation of himself to us. So when violence occurs in nature there is no case for assuming God caused it – or allowed it which is the same thing really. The Universe is continually developing, planet Earth continues to grow and diminish its mountains and valleys, it’s oceans and atmosphere as part of the natural processes from from God’s creative action some 13 billion years ago. Global warming may well be a completely natural process. What we do need to act on is where we as a human family are damaging our planet by pollution, releasing billions of years of accumulated carbon in just a couple of centuries, rendering our water unfit to drink and accelerating the warming of the oceans where giant storms arise. Did God grant the whole creation the freedom to develop as it wills just as we people of the earth have be given the freedom to do as we will – even when that is contrary to God’s will.

  10. Testimony:
    My dads remodel investment house (his retirement/savings) is located in between fort Myers and Tampa. My sisters in Christ and I prayed and fasted for that area from Friday-Sunday…we gradually saw the category go down from 5-1 to tropical storm. My dads house was completely fine, had power, etc. my girls were so excited as they kept praying. There was even an article that talked about how the storm “unexpectedly veered at last minute” “meteorological luck” ” instead of storm surge there was 5 ft below normal and dried up beach near Tampa area”
    I am firm believer that the prayers of His people are powerful…it’s Christ in us…His authority. I firmly believe these natural disasters are not “from God” He is the God of Life the enemy is of death very clear in the scriptures. What I love about Wayne and Brads voice is that they counter the thought that is prevalent “if God loves/likes us then good happens to us but if He doesn’t love/like us then bad things happen” I have loved ones who responded with that false way of thinking:( and I pray for them they may know God loves and likes them not based on our “good deeds”. With all that said I do believe the Church had a powerful purpose in prayer!

    I remember years ago when the hurricane happened in Haiti, a baby shower was thrown for me that day and they asked what I wanted prayer for…I said my heart breaks for Haiti let’s take time to pray them….the pastors wife said…”I know they mostly practice animism and so no wonder this is God’s judgment on them”….it quenched any life and fire to pray for them…when we are quick to take God’s name in vain by applying His name to destructive disaster it is aligning with the very action of the disaster…destructive, death, not with the One Who said, “but I have come that they may have life and life abundantly”

    I can admit I did at one time believe that Katrina was God’s judgment…sad and I greatly regret and repent of that:( on top of that I sent out an email to my relatives sharing how it’s just like with Noah:( I have often wondered if I should email all those people after these years and share the truth and repent for what I said/believed at that time. Sadly I was involved in a what I call religious cult that thankfully Jesus broke me free from and now worked all things together for good as now my husband and I can see legalism vs Grace since we lived in legalism and now pray to be vessels of Grace.

  11. Wayne and Brad, did you know that no major hurricanes (i.e. cat 3 and above) hit the U.S. mainland between 2005 (the year of Katrina) and this year? This was a record long “drought” of U.S. major hurricanes. Was God pleased with the U.S. during this time? Or was God taking a breather before smacking us with Round 2 of His judgement? What about “climate change”? Did it cause the storms or make them worse? Could it have also been responsible for the record long lack of major hurricanes? What about the 500 year flood? What percentage of the earth did not have a 500 year flood in the past year? 99.8 %? We don’t pay too much attention to that portion. Pick and choose your statistics, and create a narrative. (I’m not saying that YOU are).

    By the way, Brad, about that total solar eclipse that you mentioned occurring in the United States in 1776… there were no total solar eclipses anywhere on the planet that year. (You can verify this at NASA’s eclipse website here: https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEcat5/SE1701-1800.html ). It seems that several internet sites stated that the last total solar eclipse that affected the U.S. before Aug 21, 2017 was during the year of it’s founding. I believe someone misunderstood a statement (from space.com ?) that said that it was the only such eclipse since it’s founding, NOT that one did occur that year. This rumor spread like wildfire, without people checking into it. But it did fit a narrative being presented, so why check?

    Kind of like the Revelation 12 “sign” of the planet Jupiter hanging around inside the “womb” of Virgo the virgin for 9 months, then popping out on Sept 23. Except that it was never inside her womb. Nearly all of that time it was outside of her body between her armpit and torso. There are star chart sites where you can verify this. There was so much else wrong with this scenario that I don’t care to go into at this time.

    We tend to accept statements of “supporting evidence” for claims without checking into them. Like “97% of scientists say…” And even if that were true, it proves nothing. (By the way, I am a meteorologist… which proves nothing).

    Oh Wayne, you may be interested to know that 11 out of the 12 “blood moons” happened AFTER the events they were suppose to “predict” in 1492, 1948, and 1967. Maybe you knew this already. How many people ever dig deeper than what they read or hear on the surface?

    I Thes 5:21 says to:
    1. Test all things.
    2. Hold fast to that which is good.

    I do definitely believe in signs from God, and am convinced I have experienced several myself. I just think we need to have a higher threshold.

    Finally I’ll leave you with a couple of lines penned by a famous song writer from the 1960’s (or was it Solomon?)…

    To every season (spin spin spin)
    There is a reason (spin spin spin)

    I greatly enjoy your podcasts, books, and movie.

    Blessings to you and your families!!!

    ~DZ

    • Hi Dan. I never check more deeply into these things, because when I have in the past, it always turns out that the “science” has been twisted to fit the theology and the dates rarely, if ever line up. I’m glad you did, though, in this case. It may help enlighten some folks. I am amazed at the stuff people talk about as “fact”, especially celestial events, that turn out to be completely wrong. People are just manipulating things to make their point seem more mysterious. I weary of it. Truly!

    • I meant to say, “the last total solar eclipse that affected ONLY the U.S. before Aug 21, 2017…”. I happened to witness the one in 1979 in the Pacific Northwest that went up into Canada as well. I’ve seen two other “totals” including this last recent one. Wayne, I am SOOOO HAPPY that you and your son got to witness this last one in Wyoming! I know you meet a lot of people in your travels, so you may not remember me from a meeting you had in Kansas City a few years back. You had me mentioned that you were planning to meet with some people in Cairn, Australia. I knew that there was going to be a total eclipse there (or close to there) in the near future (to that time), and I tried to convince you that you should schedule your trip to coincide with that. If I recall correctly, you said you didn’t think you could pull that off. So I was thrilled that you made the diversion on your trip to Colorado to see this one!

  12. Thank you for your timely response, Wayne. And may His grace be upon you and your wife as you nurse her through hip-replacement recovery. (I nursed my wife through one knee replacement, and am about to do it though the 2nd one. So I can empathize).

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