Why Did God Allow This to Happen
A question in the minds of many at the present time is this: Why has God let this Tsunami disaster happen? The answer to this is not really very complicated for a believer to understand - a believer who has the Big Picture. However, for an unbeliever to accept the answer is understandably rather more complicated.
Providentially, there is a starting point for an explanation about the reality of God and His universe when any disaster happens. Far from proving the non-existence of God, such tragedies demonstrate the primary importance and necessity of faith. Without faith, tragedies make us stuck in the disaster. Without faith, we see only the disaster and not the cosmic background to that disaster.
Allow me to elaborate.
I do not believe in a Darwinian universe. I believe in a God of creation. And the world which God created was one in which it was possible for there to be a Fall. It was possible for the first human beings to sin. He created it like that. He could have created it so that such things were not possible, but He didn't. You may not like that, but that's the way it is. As far as I am concerned, because He is essentially a good God, there is a good reason for everything that He does.
Thus, He was not taken by surprise when things went wrong. It was His choice to create a world in which such things could happen. He chose to create a world which would involve the long dark way of sin and death in order to achieve something very different, in order to teach many lessons along the way, if we will receive them. If you stick with me here and read through this little piece to the end you will see why.
We have to understand that there is a development in this universe which will ultimately issue in a sinless, perfect world. But it is not an overnight job. The world was originally created "very good", but it was not created in the highest state of perfection. If it had been created in the highest state of perfection there would have no place for sin or death.
Even many believers fail to realise that the original creation of the universe was never designed to be the finished product in God's handiwork. As the Scriptures clearly show, the ultimate purpose in the creative mind of God has always been a completely reconstituted universe in which suffering and evil has no place (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; Acts of the Apostles 3:20-21; Gospel of Matthew 19:28; Peter's Second Letter 3:13; Book of Revelation 21:1-5). The universe as it is currently constituted - with all its upheavals and cataclysms - is but a vast stepping stone on the pathway to a New Heavens and a New Earth which will be effected by the Lord after He has come again to judge the world.
In this way, we can see that everything that happens within the universe is - in some sense, in the inscrutable will of God - making a contribution to that ultimate purpose. Understanding this fact will bring a completely new perspective to suffering and evil in this present world, which must be seen as provisional, transient and under the controlling hand of God.
In the meantime, "the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now" (Letter to the Romans 8:22). One can almost hear the tectonic plates grinding together when one reads that verse [seehttp://geology.er.usgs.gov/eastern/plates.html ]. What is really significant is that the universe is pictured here by the apostle as likened to the gestation period of a foetus. Being born is never a pleasant business. Much pain and a modicum of gore characterise birth. (I speak from experience as a hands-on husband present and active at the births of all my children. In the case of our last child, I was actually the midwife as it happened rather quickly in the night in the middle of nowhere!). Birthing a new life is not at all pleasant, until it has successfully been birthed - as both the neonate and the mother will report. And as this universe moves towards the time when it will finally be perfected after the return of Christ, there is much pain and suffering to be experienced on every level along the way.
It seems extraordinary that so many tomes have been written on the "Theodicy" - the apparent conundrum of the existence of evil in a world created by a good God. There is really nothing terribly complicated or philosophically obtuse about the existence of evil in the universe. Rational, created beings, when left to their own devices in a state of freewill, have a capacity to doubt their creatureship and God's creatorship. Evil always begins with a denial of the Creator by the created, who then raise themselves up to divine status. It has always been that way and it always will be - until God brings this present age to a stunningly dramatic close.
All the evil, pain and suffering in this universe is the bi-product of the original breaking of God's law. Having turned against their Creator in the first place, it is as if the Lord had said: "Okay then. Since you have chosen Satan as your father in place of me, you will now discover the significance of your actions. He can be your god (cf. 2 Cor.4:4) and then you will eventually realise the foolishness of your actions".
Ultimately, this is all leading up to the learning of an indispensable lesson. I have written a much longer article on this whole subject, which I urge you to read ["Tested by Fire", on the Diakrisis website]. Here is a quote from the closing paragraph of that article:
"The great cosmic lesson of time and history is this: the purging of pride from the creature. Fallen angels and human beings combined have raised themselves up above the jurisdiction of their Creator God, and the rest of human history has been designed to show the foolishness of that pride and the overwhelming truth that without God, the creature is both helpless and hopeless. This is the great universal work of Divinely ordained discipline. It is the ultimate purpose of the whole span of history in this universe, with its sin, suffering and healing salvation. When the great Day of the Lord comes, and the entire universe is transformed into what it might have been in the first creation, the voice of the Lord will thunder out through every nook and cranny of the cosmos, reminding every rational creature of that irrefutable reality: "Without Me you can do nothing!" (Gospel of John 15:5).
This is really what all suffering and hardship is about. To drive us to come to God and discover the truth about our Saviour Christ and that without Him we are helpless - not just in this life but for all time. The whole of the life of the cosmos is like a vast, unfolding flower which is struggling to reveal itself and teach us its lessons, if we will only watch and listen.
The presence of death in this world, even on a vast scale, is a signal of the degradation of sin, the awful consequences of the breaking of the law of God. It is this which originally brought death into the world. The manner or timing of our death is not really important. A few of us will die in our sleep without a struggle, whereas the vast majority will die in a horrible manner - through accident or disease. But die we will. The important thing is whether or not we are prepared for our deaths; and the only way to prepare for our deaths is to become a disciple of Christ, who is God incarnate, for that is the way to everlasting life.
Many people have so emphatically put their feet under the table of this present world that they are almost entirely ignorant of the fact that this mortal life is but a brief, preparatory prelude to the eternal life which is to come. They are stuck in a myopic view of life and only see their present messy existences and the grief which comes their way. By all means grieve but do not become overwhelmed by that or any other thing. Keep an eye on the Big Picture. Know where all this is heading. It is all knowable.
This is why I say that far from proving the non-existence of God, such tragedies demonstrate the primary importance and necessity of faith. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Letter to the Hebrews 11:1). Faith makes things substantial which do not yet have a wholly present reality. Thus, if we have faith in the eventual recreation of this universe, even though we may be sitting on a dung heap which wreaks of the stench of death, we will still be able to realise that this is merely a brief staging post on the way to the future as the universe - struggling as a result of the Fall of man - groans, heaves and stumbles from one cataclysm to the next.
Yes, it is truly awful when cataclysms happen. (The Bible shows that they will increase in intensity and occurrence as the time of the end draws closer). Please realise that nothing written above is meant to diminish anyone's personal tragic experience. As human beings we must do all that we can to help those who suffer and are in need. But when the dust has settled and the grieving lessened, we must come to terms with the Big Picture which arcs all the way from the Fall to the Final Trumpet, passing through the earth-shattering events of the Incarnation, Death, Resurrection, Ascension and Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is these events which alone provide the substance for our faith.
Without Him, we can neither do nothing nor understand anything. Above all, without faith in Him and in all that He is going to do when He returns, we will fail to see the Big Picture which is so necessary if we want to focus our minds on the things which are presently unseen and hoped for.
May God give us the strength to achieve this.
Yours, by grace alone,
Dear Friends: It seems that the piece I sent out about why God allows disasters to happen has raised a few conundrums for people. This is understandable. It is a very high doctrine. As I said, I am only too happy to receive questions or comments on anything I send out. In fact, I would rather receive questions and comments than a wall of silence!
The main point of contention seems to have been the idea that the universe was not created in the highest state of perfection in the first place. I didn't want to go into the Hebrew and Greek and deep theology in that original piece as I thought that it would only create difficulties for people who might be sent the article and who might not necessarily even be believers. So here is a question which someone has raised, together with my response. I hope this adds some dimensionality to my original piece. Actually, there are two issues in this reader's comment, which I have dealt with separately.
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Hello Alan. You wrote a pretty good article here but only one thing I'd not have written is the idea that God did not make it a perfect world. Yes, He did, but He also permitted his chief enemy to visit many of his perfect worlds and finally find one in which he could deceive the inhabitants. That was what caused imperfection. God allowed imperfection to happen because he chose to give his enemy every opportunity to either repent or fully condemn himself before every created being.
Forgive me, but I am going to have to disagree with you politely there. The Lord did not initially create the universe to the highest perfection. He deliberately left a little thing in place: the ability for a Fall. If there is the possibility for a fall, then it cannot have been the highest state of perfection.
The universe was certainly created "very good" but it was not the finished product. It had not yet reached its highest state of perfection - of maturity, of completion. It had not yet reached its proper conclusion. For that state will be one in which there can no longer be any possibility of a fall, and that state is reserved for the "new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Pet.3:13). Then we will be able to say that the universe is truly perfect, completed, matured.
You also make a comment about God giving Satan the opportunity to repent. The problem with that idea is that there never could have been any opportunity for Satan the fallen angel to repent as, in the Lord's plan, there never was designed to be any salvation for the angels (see Heb.2:16, where that teaching is explicit). The Lord would not give the devil an opportunity to attain something which could never have been his anyway.
Christ "indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (i.e. saved human beings, 1 Pet.1:20), but He was not foreordained for any of the angels. God only foreordained that a number of his human creation would be saved; He never foreordained salvation for angels. Thus Satan could never have repented and been saved. As the Scriptures say: "God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment" (2 Pet.2:4); "The angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6). None was spared. None was ever given any opportunity to repent. They went straight into judgement, reserved for hell. In fact, hell was originally prepared for the devil and his fellow fallen angels (Matt.25:41). In the mind of God, there never had been any kind of salvation possible for them. Ever. This is also why the angels are so utterly fascinated by the entire process of salvation in history (1 Pet.1:12). Thus, it is no wonder that "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10). There has never been any salvation possible for angels, so we are to them a dazzling working example of the grace of God. In fact, the miracle of salvation for Jews and Gentiles saved as one in the body of Christ is actually a message for the angels about the supreme wisdom of God. We are a continual reminder to the angels - both fallen and good - of God's all-omnipotent wisdom (see Eph.3:8-12 for details of that).
He chose to save us fallen human beings but not the fallen angels. Which is why the grace of God towards us is all the more miraculous! Do you see the beauty of His grace in that. We human beings deserved darkness forever just as much as the fallen angels. Yet, by God's grace He has granted us salvation, leading ultimately to perfection, our completion as creatures. God's accomplishment. Let us rejoice in that mighty fact during these strange days of darkness. Yours, by grace alone,