Hurricane Matthew: Where was GOD?
Over the past week or so I have talked about how blessed we were through the devastation of Hurricane Matthew, and we (my family, our kids, and All Things New) absolutely were blessed. The problem is that there are whole cities in Haiti where people who were struggling to feed their families and send their children to school have now lost everything. Some of them were followers of Christ and some of them were not, but they were all people who GOD created and loves. So this brings up a huge question…
If GOD loves them, why did He allow this to happen?
This is such a huge question and one that I have seen in one form or another a lot the last few days. Many people would even say this question and this thought is what will keep them from ever becoming a follower of Christ. The truth is, I can completely understand why. It is so difficult to understand why GOD allows natural disasters, why our loved ones are taken from us, and why bad things like this seem to happen so often. I would like to share why I believe this question should lead us to Christ rather than away from Him. I absolutely and without a doubt believe that GOD was in the midst of the storm bringing comfort and peace to His children who were going through a disaster. At the same time, I believe He was protecting and shielding His other children from that same storm so they would not be affected by it. Does that mean that GOD loves some of His children more than others? Absolutely not! It means that He loves us no matter where we are or what we are going through.
The next argument would be, “If He really loved His children He would have stopped the storm from coming.” The real problem, however, is not that He did not stop the storm but that He created a world where the storm could exist. We do not have time, in this blog, to get deep into the philosophical and theological questions that this brings up, but we do have time to scratch the surface and see that GOD was always there and always loved us. You see GOD created a world where humans, who were created in His image, had the choice to love Him or not. He could have forced us to. He could have created us as robots without even the ability to stray from one of His commands, and in that world this storm would have never come in the first place. It would have been a perfect place free of sin, free of pain, and free of doubt about the existence of GOD because He would have always been right in front of us. The problem is that that same world, as good as it sounds, would have also been free of love. As much as we want to believe that love is a feeling or an attraction to another person, the truth that we all realize about love is that it is a choice. There is no love without the ability to choose not to love, and the beauty of love is that it is something that we choose to do or not to do every single day of our life in every relationship that we are in.
The point is, GOD could have created a perfect world where sin was never an option but in that world love would have not been an option either, and that is not a world where I would ever want to live. Instead GOD chose to create us with a choice to love Him and a choice to love each other. The problem is that in this world sin is an option too, and it is an option that all of us choose every day. In a world where sin is rampant, evil must exist and it must exist in many forms. The decisions that we make every day to lie, to hate, to deceive, etc. all lead us to a world where storms like Hurricane Matthew exist and wreak havoc on entire populations and on parts of the world where people are not equipped to deal with it. When evil rears its head like this, it so easy for us to come back and blame GOD or to say that there is no god because if there were a god then this storm would never have come. But, deep down in our hearts, we know that this is not true. Deep down in our hearts we know that GOD exists because we look around at the beauty and the majesty of His creation and the intricate design that holds the world together is absolutely astounding and could NEVER EVER happen by chance. The beauty that stirs in our hearts when we look out at the vastness of the ocean and the majesty of the mountains has to have come from somewhere and we know that it came from GOD. But this knowledge that we hold deep in our hearts about the existence of GOD is the same knowledge that drives some of us further and further away from Him when these types of things happen.
You see, in our minds, we decide that if GOD does exist and He allowed this to happen then we do not want any part of Him. It is the same reason many people are driven away from GOD when they lose a loved one or when the very people who are supposed to care about them hurt them. These events drive us away from GOD because we begin to believe that a GOD who had the power to stop these terrible things but didn’t is a GOD that either does not exist or one that we do not want to know. The problem is, when we get to the point in our lives when we start blaming GOD or turning our back on Him, then we have missed the point of who He truly is. Do bad things happen? Yes, all of the time. Could GOD stop them from happening? Yes, He has the power to do anything. Then why do these things happen? I don’t know why they happen, I am not GOD. I do know that GOD created a world where we get to choose to love Him or not, follow Him or not, and sin or not. In this world where we have these freedoms, unfortunately, we often choose the “not” and it is in this choosing that evil entered the world. Could GOD have stopped sin and evil from coming here? Yes. But in stopping it He would have also stopped faith, freedom, and most importantly love. Instead, GOD loved us so much that He wanted us to be able to experience what it means to love and to be loved.
My main point in this is something that many non-believers find intellectually lazy, but the truth is that it is the only outcome of the situation that I described above. GOD is with us through every single trial that we have ever and will ever go through, He is also the one who protects us when bad things try to come into our lives, and He is the giver of every good gift we will ever receive. Someone who does not know GOD will look at that sentence and think that Christians have constructed a scenario in which GOD could never be disproven and that is why I used the phrase “intellectually lazy.” The truth is, we have constructed a scenario where GOD wins no matter what. If He protects us from bad things when they don’t happen, gives us peace and comfort when they do, and gives us every good thing that we have, then nothing else is left! But isn’t that the point? If there is a GOD then isn’t that exactly what He would be like?
So let me answer the question I asked in the title of this blog…”When Hurricane Matthew hit the coast of Haiti, Where was GOD?” He was exactly where you think He would have been. He was shielding and protecting many, He was giving peace and comfort to those who were enduring a terrifying and tragic day, and at the same time He was showering gifts of love on people all over the world. That is who GOD is! Now let me tell you the emotional side of this argument…
In each of our lives, we have faced difficulties and hardships. We have all lost people that we cared for deeply, had our lives turn out differently than we hoped, had a devastating event that affected us or our family, and in general have had terrible things happen to us. When these things happen, I have absolutely no idea how people make it through without the knowledge that GOD is on our side. You see, at the end of the day, this world that GOD created has one thing that has changed my life forever…It has a Savior! As terrible as things can be, as awful as the tragedy in Haiti is, as difficult as it was to lose people that I love, and as hard as it is to see pain and imperfection every day, I have a Savior. And, spoiler alert, He wins. If tomorrow I lost everything, guess what…I have a Savior. If I win the lottery next week (which I won’t because I don’t play it), guess what…I have a Savior. No matter what happens next, I can rest assured that for eternity I will be in the presence of my GOD and my Savior Jesus Christ. Is that intellectually lazy…It absolutely is not, because it is true.
So as you see photos and hear stories of the tragedy in Haiti and you start to wonder where GOD was when all of this was going on. I can promise you He was in the middle of the storm weeping over the tragedy, giving supernatural peace and comfort to His children, and holding His end of the promise to never leave us nor forsake us. He is always right there, and if you have never known that type of love and that type of peace and that type of presence in your life then you are missing out on the best thing in the world. If you are a follower of Christ, do not lose faith, but pray fervently for His children who are struggling and give of your resources to help them out. If you are not a follower of Christ, all I can say is that it is so incredible knowing Him that no word I could ever use could do it justice, and I would love nothing more than to talk with you about becoming a Christian.