Whenever disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes and other calamities happen, people can’t help but ask the following questions:
“How could God ever allow this to happen?”
“Where was He when we needed Him the most?”
“Is there even a God?”
“If God is loving, how could He allow so much suffering?”
And the temptation here is to quickly come to our own conclusions before we could think more clearly. Our emotions are so strong that we may not even want to hear the answer. We just want to make a statement because that’s just how we feel at the moment.
“There is no God. If there is a God, He would be good. But how can He be good if He allows so much evil to happen?”
The Existence of God
Even when it hurts, we must fight the temptation of losing our faith in God.
God’s existence comes from several proofs that can still stand despite our doubts. He is the very source of life and through His power, the whole Universe we live in has been made.
Here are just some of the ways we could be reminded of His existence:
1. Through nature
2. Through logic
3. Through the Bible
4. Through the witness of other Christians
The Reason for Disasters
We should not be too quick in assuming it is God who caused a disaster to happen. Not every catastrophe comes from God. Many disasters happen because of negligence or the evil intent of men. We only need to look at the tragedies of war or the ill effects of man’s misuse of technology to see that not every calamity comes from God.
As for natural calamities, we must trust that God in His infinite wisdom knows the reason why He allows such disasters to come.
We must keep in mind that God never intended evil. Evil came into the world through the fall of man. By choosing sin over obedience, man allowed evil and all its consequences to enter the world.
“God did not make death,
and he does not delight in the death of the living.
For he created all things so that they might exist;
the generative forces of the world are wholesome,
and there is no destructive poison in them,
and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.
For righteousness is immortal.”
– Wisdom 1:13-15 (NRSVCE)
Are Disasters a Form of Punishment From God?
Let us never think that a disaster is an outright punishment from God.
In the Old Testament, we read from the story of Job how God allowed certain disasters to come into his life not as a punishment but as a way to test him and to allow greater blessings to come into his life.
Even Joseph was sold as a slave by his own brothers before he became governor of Egypt.
We need not look very far than Jesus Himself who suffered all kinds of torment and even cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, NRSVCE)
Jesus suffered even death before He came back to life.
Still, let us not disregard the natural consequence of our actions. In the same way that Adam and Eve’s disobedience led to the fall, our personal sins have a natural outcome we cannot blame upon God.
“Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” – Luke 13:2-5 (NRSVCE)
Where Is God When Disaster Comes?
When disaster comes, I think that God understands even when we doubt and raise our many questions about Him. He knows our pain and He suffers with us. Didn’t Jesus Himself carry the cross and died out of God’s great love for us?
We may never know the reason why a good God allows evil and suffering. But we must trust that everything that He ever allows to happen comes from a wisdom that desires our greater good.
Let us not think too much even when it hurts. Let us not lose the very faith that can console us and give us strength in times of tragedy.
But let us cry out to God and ask Him for help. He listens to His children, and He will never turn His back on those whom He loves.
We can be honest with God. We can confess to Him all our doubts, all our hurts.
But let us not turn away from Him. On the contrary, let us cling to Him more! Yes, like children who need their Father, let us run to Him and hold on to Him.
Many times, God would send people who would be channels of His compassion for us. It is His power working through them that will let us know that we are not alone.
As for those times when we can’t even see any human help, let us trust that God remains. After everything, and despite all our questions, God remains to be our true hope. He alone can aid us in our sorrows and heal us from all our wounds.
“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.”
-Isaiah 49:15 (NRSVCE)
Jocelyn Soriano writes regularly on Patheos under the column “Beloved”. She also writes about relationships and the Catholic faith at Single Catholic Writer. She wrote the books To Love an Invisible God and Questions to God.