Instead of criticizing God when calamity happens, we ought to remain amazed that the mercy of God is known at all.
Theodicy - “a vindication of the divine attributes, particularly holiness and justice, in establishing or allowing the existence of physical and moral evil.” One Hollywood notable declared: “God” sent Harvey and Irma because America elected Donald Trump as President. Over the past several days I have been asked about whether God sent these things to judge Houston, Florida, or America in general. Even greater is the question of how God can allow things like Harvey and Irma, the earthquake in Mexico, and other disasters to happen. If He is good, why does He not prevent these kinds of things? Here is the best answer that I can provide to these questions:
God does not deal with us in the ways we deserve. David the king says: “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities” [Psalm 103:10]. If God were to exercise justice, all sinners would be consumed by His wrath. Ezra had it right when he said: “After all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and great guilt, since You our God have requited us less than our iniquities deserve …” Ezra 9:13.
God is gracious in showing kindness and patience toward men as a general modus operandi. Jesus made this clear by stating: “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” [Matthew 5:44-45]. When we show kindness to undeserving people, we are like our Heavenly Father who does the same.
God’s mercy is the reason we are not all consumed. The prophet Jeremiah declares: “The Lord’s lovingkindness [mercies] indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” [Lamentations 3:22-23]. The constancy of God’s mercy and grace becomes something to which men become so accustomed that anything that does not sustain our well-being is viewed as unfair or unmerited. Instead of criticizing God when calamity happens, we ought to remain amazed that the mercy of God is known at all.
Natural disasters serve as reminders of the greater consequences awaiting those who refuse to respond to God’s kindness with repentance. The Apostle Paul said: “Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” [Romans 2:4-5].
Jesus taught that whenever disaster strikes, men should immediately consider their own condition before the Lord. He said: “Do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” [Luke 13:4-5]. Jesus’ point is that instead of seeing God as somehow unjust when bad things happen, we need to see it as an exercise of mercy to remind us all of the greater consequences of our sin - the eternal punishment that awaits all unrepentant sinners.
We all ought to live in a state of gratitude that God shows us kindness at all. The only way He can is because of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ who makes it possible for any of us to know God’s goodness. Without Christ, there is nothing but wrath and judgment. Thanks be to God whose kindness is shown most notably through our Lord Jesus Christ!