I’m aware that the news cycle has moved on rather dramatically from last week’s devastating tornadoes that swept through Alabama and Georgia. But before it gets too far away, I did like this pastor’s theological reflection. Adam Hamilton goes through the usual laundry list of “reasons” God allows or causes natural disasters such as this one. Although he disagrees with them, he rightly point out that these explanations can offer comfort (to some) and assurance (to some) that “God is in control.”
“God is in control” is not a bad or untrue message, either. The question is, “How does God exert that control?” Hamilton writes:
But there is a different message many pastors will preach this weekend. They will tell their parishioners that God doesn’t send tornadoes. To find the answer to the “Why?” question, these pastors will suggest, one must turn not to a theologian or to the Bible, but to a meteorologist. The meteorologist explains that tornadoes are naturally occurring events that can, with varying degrees of accuracy, actually be predicted… These pastors may even take the time to explain the weather conditions that give rise to tornadoes. It is not God, they will say, but the collision of hot and cold air, that is the answer to the question, “Why?”
Then they will remind their people that just over a week ago, on Good Friday, Christians remembered that the Son of God himself was subjected to pain and suffering, tragedy and loss, such that he cried out, using the words of Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” They will note that a religion whose founder was crucified cannot be construed to teach that God’s people will never suffer. God seldom suspends the laws of nature, just as God does not remove free will to keep evil people from doing evil things.
Even before my series of articles and sermons last year in the wake of the Haiti disaster, I wrote this piece on theodicy, which some might find helpful.