Natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions often make big headlines. These powerful events sometimes cause dramatic physical changes to the Earth. They may also cause suffering and death. As Christians, our appropriate response to the people and animals affected by such events is to offer practical, compassionate assistance. Additionally, we need to address the question of whether a loving God would allow these things.
Part of that response acknowledges that the forces behind these “natural disasters” play a critical role in Earth’s capacity to support life. Typically these events are natural consequences of life-essential processes. For example, earthquakes result from plate tectonic activity which provides for necessary nutrient recycling. What’s more, without this activity Earth’s water would quickly disappear, making life on Earth impossible. Another part of the response acknowledges that the pain and suffering resulting from such events often traces back in some degree to human error, such as unwise planning, corruption, or failure to head warning signs.
Given the physical laws established by God for our benefit, the frequency and intensity of earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters are actually optimized our good. The physical laws are a temporary but crucial component in God’s redemptive plan for humanity.
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