When an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, evangelist Pat Robertson made headlines by saying the earthquake was God’s judgment on the Haitians for their wickedness. At least one of other religious leader, the Patriarch of Moscow, and a few Haitian Christians, also made headlines saying the same thing.
Where are those headlines now? I haven’t seen any, but I don’t doubt that the same people are thinking the same thing about Hurricane Sandy.
And they may not be wrong.
I’m not passing judgment on Americans, or on the United States, or even on all those blue states in Sandy’s path. But I will venture a brief answer — in three parts — to the general question: Does God cause hurricanes?
(1) God can and sometimes does cause hurricanes, no doubt for a variety of reasons, including to show us how vulnerable we are, teach us what truly matters, and call us to repentance. Other reasons might include the prevention of a greater calamity or frustration of an evil endeavor. He might, for example, cause a hurricane to destroy a fleet at sea to spare others from attack.
(2) God doesn’t cause all hurricanes; sometimes they just happen. They happen because man has fallen away from God and taken the world with him. Man was meant to be the planet’s priest, linking creation with its Creator. When man turned away from his Creator, he broke all links and so the world fell apart. By himself, man could no longer keep order. Winds raged, continents collided, plants grew out of control, and beasts ran amuck.
(3) God isn’t ever to blame for hurricanes, even when He causes them. Man is to blame for his disordered world; he is also to blame for every evil he suffers in it. God does allow suffering because He allows freedom — to each of us individually and to that part of creation entrusted to mankind. God also sometimes causes suffering for His own reasons, but those reasons are always good and never evil.
Suffering itself is not evil. Only sin is evil, and God doesn’t ever cause sin. He may cause hurricanes, He may cause earthquakes, He may cause heart-attacks, but He does not cause hate, or despair, or insanity, or suicide. He does not cause anything that truly ruins us, and all that He does cause can be borne with joy, if we would only fix our eyes on Him.