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Do hurricanes just happen?

November 2005 | by Jim Elliff

The Psalmist wrote, ‘Whatever the Lord pleases he does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places. He causes the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth. He makes lightening for the rain; he brings the wind out of his treasuries’ (Psalm 135:6-7).

And Jeremiah asked, ‘Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well-being proceed?’ (Lamentations 3:38).

A hurricane definitely falls in the ‘woe’ category. Such physical catastrophes are sometimes called ‘natural evils’ and they come by that misnomer honestly. What devastation! We are moved by the plight of those who have endured this kind of trouble.

Purpose

But can we really say God did it? Most do not want to. Yet, occasionally, even among those who assume God exercises no true sovereignty over the

wills of men, there is the admission that God does control the weather.

He does, many think, as long as nobody is seriously hurt. God might comfort during the storm and help pick up the emotional pieces after the storm, but he would never create such ruination.

However, even the world refers to ‘acts of God’. And God’s own Word certainly tells us that God is always at work doing his perfect will — even during hurricane season. These spinning engines of destruction originate from him as Ruler (

firstcause), through nature (secondcause), all for his purposes.

Though God owes us no explanation, one or all of the following possible objectives may help us understand

whyGod decrees such destructive and fear-producing events.

Warnings

God gives notice that he is powerful and not to be trifled with.

The Bible often asserts that cataclysmic events were done to display God’s power to men (Exodus 9:14-16; 14:31).

Society is warned of a greater calamity, eternal judgement.

A physical disaster is nothing compared with eternal damnation. A hurricane is an announcement: ‘If you don’t repent, worse than this is coming’ (Luke 13:1-5).

Some people are deservedly punished for their rebellion.

The Bible says, ‘the wrath of God is revealed [lit. is being revealed] from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men’ (Romans 1:18). That means now. Hurricanes are just one of the ways that might happen (Psalm 7:11-13).

Testings

Some true believers are tested or disciplined and made stronger in their faith.

The same storm that judges a non-believing man may be the crucible of testing or chastisement for a true Christian, and will toughen and purify him for the future (James 1:2-3; Hebrews 12:5-11).

Believers may be taken to heaven; and some enemies of God may be removed from the earth.

This reality is hard to accept but is nonetheless true. The Bible says that our days are ordained by God even before one of them is lived (Psalm 139:16). He also promises that many rebellious people will face a calamitous end (Psalm 73:18-19).

The godly are given an opportunity to love sacrificially.

Because the true believer seeks to imitate Christ — who ‘went about doing good’ — you will always find Christians among those on the scene helping to relieve the distress (1 John 3:17; Galatians 6:10). Their selfless love may point others to Christ.

Power

There might be more such reasons, but these will suffice to highlight the purposefulness of God in such massive displays of his power.

If it is

nottrue that God has ordained the powerful forces of nature for his own ends, then the alternative is that this event was caused only by the interplay of warm water and thermal air currents. And that is no comfort when you stand in the wet rubble that was once your home.

I would much rather know that God has a

purposein mind when it costs me so dearly. I can learn from that, and even thank him for his perfect, though sometimes disturbing, will. God knows what he is about.

‘He does according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”’ (Daniel 4:35).