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Questions Kids Ask About Natural Disasters
by Daryl E. Witmer
Why did God make the world so dangerous? Look at all the bad storms and stuff.
Why do you think that God made the world dangerous? Just because it’s that way today doesn’t mean that it was that way when He first made it. The Bible says that after God created the world, He “saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) The Garden of Eden was probably a very beautiful, peaceful, safe place.
Well, then, how did the world become dangerous?
The Bible tells us that everything changed when people began to sin. Even nature was affected. God cursed the ground. Thorns and thistles began to grow for the first time. (Genesis 3:18) And the weather got nasty. On one occasion fire fell from heaven and the winds became so violent that many people died when their house blew down. (Job 1:16,17)
Does God punish people with bad weather every time that they sin?
No. We should never conclude that someone has done something good or bad by just the kind of weather or circumstances that they experience. (Matthew 5:45, Luke 13:4) But on the other hand, sooner or later, bad things usually do happen when people sin. And when they happen, quite often everyone is affected.
Is bad weather always the result of somebody’s sin?
What do you mean by bad weather? Some powerful natural forces here on earth serve a useful purpose, although they can also be dangerous. For example, lightning creates nitrogen, which is an important part of the air that we breathe. Forest fires often burn away dead growth and thus renew the ecology. Even the shifting of the earth’s tectonic plates serves to enrich soil and regulate climate conditions, but can also cause an earthquake.
It is also true that a lot of bad weather results, at least indirectly, from the sinful failure of people to take good care of our planet.
For instance, human beings have destroyed vast tracts of tropical rain forests in the past 50 years. Doing that has increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It’s also reduced evaporation. That makes the earth grow warmer and lessens rainfall. So farmers can’t raise as many crops. So there are food shortages. So people starve. Others die from heat. Forest fires burn out of control. Ocean temperatures and air patterns change, causing more storms to become more violent. Can you see how selfishness and greed and sin lead to problems with the weather?
Why does God allow tsunamis and earthquakes if He knows that so many people will die?
Tsunamis are usually caused by earthquakes. Some forecasters knew about the big tsunami of December 2004, but didn’t warn people because they were pressured not to scare the tourists, because that would cut into profit margins. Instead, because of their silence, there was almost no warning and lots of tourists died.
Many of the people who die in earthquakes are living in houses that are not well built. Those who construct such houses often cheat on building codes in order to make more dollars. So again, death and pain and loss result from greed and dishonesty.
It doesn’t seem fair to me that God would allow innocent animals to suffer and die in natural disasters.
Did you know that very few wild animals died in the tsunami? Many birds and animals raced away from the ocean in the hours and minutes before the tsunami hit. Animals often seem to know when bad weather is on the way. They seem to be more tuned to nature and God than people. Because of sin, people often try to run from God, thereby forfeiting His guidance. (Genesis 3:8ff)
How does God feel when people lose their homes and lives because of bad weather?
He is probably very sad. (Psalm 5:4, James 5:11, Lamentation 3:33, Ezekiel 33:11). This is not the way He ideally wanted things to be. However, one day soon He’s going to come back to earth and set everything straight. (Revelation 21:1-7)
Natural disasters remind us to put our trust in God, not in science or human technology. We should all repent of our sins and draw closer than ever to God as we encounter tough times here on earth.
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