The Mustard Seed
October 2004
Campus Ministry

Why Hurricanes?

The Gallaudet chaplains from the Office of Campus Ministry were having lunch together recently when a professor joined us for casual conversation.   Then the professor asked the question, "Why hurricanes?"

After a moment of silence, one of the chaplains answered, "You will have to ask the Science Department."

But the professor had posed the question to the chaplains, not the scientists.  Of course, the implication of the question was, "Why does God allow such terrible disasters?"   And that question that the Science Department can't answer. 

So I raised my hand and said, "I can offer a theological answer to that question."

The professor invited me to proceed.

"As a Biblical literalist," I explained, "my understanding of how the trouble began was that our original parents told God, 'I don't need you telling me what to do.  I want to be my own god.  So scram!'

"God's response was, in effect, 'You want to try to be god?  Okay, go ahead.  Let's see how well you can manage the world on your own.'  Hurricanes are only one example that we really make lousy gods."

"But," asked the professor, "aren't we given responsibility to care for this world?"

"Yes," I answered.  "But the plan was for us to be managers under God's authority, not as independent agents."

Another chaplain sitting with us at the table explained that when each of us we find ourselves in the midst of a great tragedy, we can be confident that God still has His own special purposes for the things that happen to us, even though we may not understand it at that moment.

As a Christian, I also understand that there are things happening in an unseen spirit-world, things that I have no clue about, which may influence events in the natural world. (See Ephesians 6:12 and Revelation 12:7ff.)  Our responsibility is simply to trust God and obey Him.

"There are some things the Lord our God has kept secret, but there are some things he has let us know.  These things belong to us and our children forever so that we will do everything in these teachings." 
(Deuteronomy 29.29, NCV)

Obviously, my colleague who first had answered the professor's question, by saying, "Ask the Science Department," simply meant that we don't really know why God allows disasters to strike.   We can only take reasonable precautions, and then trust Him and remember that nothing on earth is permanent.

~~ Pastor Ron