As the death toll in the Philippines from Typhoon Haiyan—the largest typhoon in recorded history—continues to rise, many are asking bigger questions:
- Where is God when these disasters happen?
- Why does God allow so many innocent people to die?
- Is God purposely punishing places that are hit?
There is no simple answer to these questions. I wasn’t directly affected by any recent natural disaster, so how can I hope to advise or comfort those who have lost their loved ones and homes to catastrophic floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes? I can’t.
But I can direct you to a higher authority who loves all of us unconditionally, and sent his perfect son to die for us—the ultimate sacrifice. God sent Christ so we might be reconciled to him.
We live in a fallen world. Upon the first sins of Adam and Eve, creation was transformed from utopia to a place of hardship. Just as God doesn’t stop us from acting in sinful ways, he also doesn’t stop turmoil on Earth—the intermittent consequences of living in a sinful world.
The Apostle Paul is an example of encouragement in this subject. Paul endured perilous trials after trials throughout his ministry, yet shrugged them off as “momentary afflictions.” No pain or suffering could compare to the eternal reward and glory he would one day receive in Christ.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
—2 Corinthians 4:16–18
When disasters hit, you can’t prevent pain or hardship, no matter how much you would like to. You cannot undo the curse of sin, but you can choose your reaction to the aftermath. Focus on the transformation that goes on within your heart and soul—day in and day out—because that is what will give you the biggest stronghold of strength when disaster strikes.
Disasters will continue to hit. But amazing miracles are happening each day as well, and sometimes as a result from those crises. Reevaluate daily priorities, and learn the value of donating time and money to help those who have been struck (Romans 8:28).
Above all, take heart. Remember that struggles are only temporary. Through a relationship with Christ, we will ultimately be renewed and reunited with our loved ones and our Savior.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
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