Recently my wife and I visited Christchurch, New Zealand and were sorry to see the state of the Cathedral in the centre which was badly damaged in the earthquake of 22nd Feb. 2011.
Many people struggle to understand such disasters and question whether God can be good if He allows such things to happen. Are there any answers?
It seems we live in a far from perfect world. The Apostle Paul met this full on when He said, ‘For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to this present time.’ (Romans 8 v22) Paul then goes on to add that we too groan in our bodies. How can we understand this groaning, when we also read that when God looked on everything he had made that it was ‘very good’? (Genesis1v31) Did anything happen to turn ‘very good’ into ‘groaning’. In the Bible we read that when sin entered the world order a curse was put on creation itself. Genesis 3 v17 says, ‘Cursed is the ground because of you’.
But what if science should show that earthquakes predated man? This is a more difficult question, but I suspect it may have to do with the presence of Lucifer, cast from God’s presence down to earth. There can be little doubt about the presence of evil in the world today. With the deaths of so many millions in the twentieth century as a result of Stalin, Hitler and many others who can seriously doubt it?
There are some other questions to debate.
Since we now know where the tectonic plates intersect, might it also be a good idea not to build cities there?
Not that all earthquakes necessarily cause harm. An earthquake announced the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, when we consider His authority over the storms at sea, then we can also begin to believe that we do not always have to be at the mercy of such phenomena. Jesus after quieting the storm rebukes His disciples for their lack of faith. Maybe this was a storm stirred up by evil powers to destroy Christ and His disciples! Whatever, the word of Christ quieted the storm and perhaps we who believe in Christ should rise up more strongly when we recognise the presence of evil, even in so- called natural phenomena.
In my book, FINDING THE YES IN THE MESS, I talk in more detail about ways we can move forward in understanding suffering and pain in our lives. Understanding more does help us to be more resilient. We were never promised a trouble free existence. It is also helpful to reflect on the immense suffering undergone by Christ Himself for us. This can help us see suffering in perspective. There is beauty too in seeing the ways Christ brought relief from suffering in the Gospel accounts, and we His followers can bring some of His healing into this needy and groaning world. And maybe we will find further ways of understanding earthquakes!