Natural events like tornadoes, hurricanes and tsunamis befalling all. Would God intentionally cause natural disasters like these to strike innocents? Really?
I meet with friends for prayer breakfast every Friday morning. This is one of my better habits. We are there not just for the food and ourselves but for one another. The fellowship is both comforting and affirming. The prayer is assuring.
Last Friday morning one of my prayer breakfast friends returned a book that he had borrowed from me for a series of Sunday school lessons. The book was Reverend Leslie Weatherhead’s, “The Will of God.” Anxious to share with us about how his lesson series had gone, he first had to explain Weatherhead’s premise: that our free-will sometimes interferes with God’s Intentional Will, thus resulting in something that Weatherhead calls, God’s Circumstantial Will. But, according to Weatherhead, our interference is only temporary. God, in His infinite grace, allows us the freedom to fail. But He uses the circumstances of our choices, good or bad, and happenstances of the natural world that He created to forge His Ultimate Will. This led to a discussion about how God is involved in our daily lives.
Another prayer breakfast friend told us that he had prayed for God’s help with a business problem earlier in the week and that a solution was subsequently and soon after identified. “Surely God had answered my prayer,” he said. Then I asked whether it was possible that he was attributing Devine assistance to coincidence – whether we aren’t sometimes overly anxious to see God’s hand in everything we do.
While my friend was considering an answer to my question, another friend said, “No. It may seem to be coincidence to you, but God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him. It says so in Romans 8:28.”
I chose then not to debate the point. If my friend had chosen to give God the credit for his business solution, I knew that God would not mind. But, having read Weatherhead’s book myself, I pondered about this later that day. I sat with the Bible, accessed via the Internet, and came across the following Scripture passages: Time and chance happenth to them all (Ecc 9:11), and It rains on the just and the unjust (Mat 5:45). Hmmmm…
Chance? Natural events like tornadoes, hurricanes and tsunamis befalling all? Would God intentionally cause natural disasters to strike innocents? Really? Or are innocents simply so much collateral damage when “acts of God” like these occur? Does God cause the disasters allowing the innocents to suffer, or is He simply bound by the nature of His own creation? When man perpetrates unspeakable evil upon his fellow man, why does God allow it? The Holocaust comes readily to mind. What should we believe?
Well, we can either believe that God is involved in everything, responsible for everything, or that He is not — which is not to say that He is never involved. So that gives us a third choice, the choice that I choose to believe. When we invite God into a situation, He is there with us — may even choose to “tip the scales” on our behalf. But I know that His will is not always what we would choose.
Understanding that God ordained and made natural laws, life cycles and all things, and that these often play out over time independent of manipulation does not make me an unbeliever — just a liberal believer. I think that Weatherhead would agree.
Please feel free to post a comment, whether you agree or not.