Hurricane Beryl’s destruction and President Biden’s future

Hurricane Beryl’s destruction and President Biden’s future July 9, 2024

Hurricane Beryl came through my area yesterday, dropping nearly five inches of rain and causing high wind gusts. It was much worse elsewhere—the earliest Category 4 and Category 5 hurricane on record killed at least three people and knocked out power to nearly three million homes and businesses in Texas after devastating islands in the Caribbean.

In other news, President Biden wrote a letter yesterday to his “fellow Democrats” stating, “I am firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end, and to beating Donald Trump.” He told his favorite cable news program, “The bottom line here is, we’re not going anywhere. I’m not going anywhere.” And he addressed his largest donors in a Zoom conference yesterday afternoon, declaring that he is “absolutely and unequivocally” staying in the race.

Whatever you think of Mr. Biden’s cognitive and governing capacities, it remains true that “Father Time is undefeated.” Hurricane Beryl reminds us that Mother Nature is equally powerful.

Faced with such reminders of our finitude and our Creator’s omnipotence, this observation by Julian of Norwich (1342–c. 1416) seems relevant today:

God is the ground and the substance, the very essence of nature;
God is the true father and mother of natures.
We are all bound to God by nature,
and we are all bound to God by grace.

However, others could not disagree more vehemently, as we will see this morning. This debate is not just relevant to our rapidly secularizing culture, but to each of us who must confront some type of suffering today.

Was it “immoral” for God to create our universe?

In Why? The Purpose of the Universe, Durham University philosophy professor Philip Goff argues that the universe has a “cosmic purpose” and is directed towards “certain goals . . . such as the emergence of life.”

However, he emphatically rules out the “Omni-God” as the force behind this purpose, claiming that “it would be immoral for an all-powerful being to deliberately create a universe like ours.” He later qualifies his assertion, stating: “In terms of the moral considerations we know about, an Omni-God would not have good reason for allowing the suffering we observe.”

Professor Goff would likely cite Hurricane Beryl’s destruction as evidence. A quick perusal of any day’s headlines would offer more examples. He’s right: “in terms of the moral considerations we know about,” I wouldn’t know how to justify the brokenness of our fallen world.

We can and should blame the Fall for natural disasters such as hurricanes (cf. Romans 8:22), but an omniscient God knew our first parents would sin before he made them and sometimes counteracts the forces of nature we encounter in our fallen world (cf. Matthew 8:23–27). And we can and should blame misused free will for much of the suffering we experience, but God sometimes intervenes to prevent such consequences (cf. Acts 12:1–11).

I can respond with my oft-repeated assertion that God redeems all he allows or point to reasons why at least some suffering is necessary, but I cannot prove that this is so on this side of eternity. It is a simple fact that if you and I were God, our world would face far less suffering—or so we think.

It is little wonder that secularism is escalating as world conditions grow more challenging. And that many who claim to follow Christ separate our religion from the “real world” as though the former is irrelevant to the latter.

Blaming our doctor for our disease

But here’s the problem with Professor Goff’s reasoning: “the moral considerations we know about” cannot begin to exhaust such considerations available to an omniscient God. The Lord reminds us: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

Given his unlimited knowledge and our fallen minds, how can it be otherwise?

Now we have a choice to make. We can claim that “it would be immoral for an all-powerful being to deliberately create a universe like ours” and dismiss his existence in times of suffering, but they are precisely when we need him most. Like a patient who blames his doctor for his disease and thus forfeits the healing she could provide, our rejection becomes a circular, self-fulfilling prophecy.

The less we trust God, the less we experience the grace that would encourage us to trust him. And the enemy who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” is pleased (John 10:10).

Or we can admit that we cannot know all that the King of the universe knows and trust his omniscience over our finitude. We can believe that a Father who would seek our salvation at the cost of his own Son’s suffering and sacrifice is a Father whose love is worthy of our faith.

Like all relationships, our decision to trust him will then become self-validating. The more we experience Jesus as a living Person and omnipotent Lord, the more we will be encouraged to believe in his existence and to have confidence in his providence.

“All history converges in Christ”

You and I cannot defeat Father Time or Mother Nature. But we can agree with Pope Paul VI, who testified:

All things, all history converges in Christ. A man of sorrow and hope, he knows us and loves us. As our friend, he stays by us throughout our lives; at the end of time, he will come to be our judge; but we also know that he will be the complete fulfillment of our lives and our great happiness for all eternity. . . .

I proclaim to all men: Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, Lord of the new universe, the great hidden key to human history and the part we plan in it. He is the mediator—the bridge, if you will—between heaven and earth. Above all he is the Son of man, more perfect than any man, being also the Son of God, eternal and infinite.

He concluded:

“It is Jesus Christ I preach day in and day out. His name I would see echo and re-echo for all time even to the ends of the earth.”

Whose “name” will you “preach” today?

Tuesday news to know:

Quote for the day:

“There is a twofold hedge that God makes about his people. There is the hedge of protection, to keep evil from them; and the hedge of affliction, to keep them from evil.” —John Bunyan

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