In the midst of Florida’s hurricane watch, I saw someone post something on Facebook that mentioned how the “old folks” used to say, referring to hurricanes or other natural disasters, “Go sit down somewhere while the Lord does His work.” I believe in respecting one’s elders but to put it nicely, that sounds off.
All my life, the catch phrase regarding God has been summed up to two phrases that I will never forget and I actually agree with them- “God is love” and, “God is good all the time (And all the time, God is good)”. Now, when Love and Goodness starts sending natural disasters that literally destroy everything in their wake and kills people, in my mind at least, we have a problem.
There’s a mixed message that is prevalent in the Church… God is love. He is good and He loves you but make a wrong move and He will destroy you or someone you love. One can scarcely attend a funeral where Job’s phrase isn’t mentioned as if it is the gospel truth- “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.” Sounds just like something an adult would do to a child to punish them. Or a false friend who gives you something and takes it back. We had a name for people like that who would give you something and then turn back around and take it away, and it wasn’t a good one. This is some of what we’ve pinned onto God without a thought to what Scripture says.
In John 5:19, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the father doing.Whatever the Father does, the son also does.” Jesus literally modeled the Father. I have read what is considered the gospels many times in my life and while I don’t claim to know everything, I don’t recall ever seeing Jesus model anything akin to sending a natural disaster to destroy people, nor did he ever give someone something and take it away. Can you imagine Jesus, “Lazarus, come forth!! Haha, just kidding, go die again now!” or, “You are healed, haha, now you’re not!”
In fact, Jesus told us in John 10:10 that it was the thief, referring to the enemy, who comes to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus said that he came that we might have life and life more abundantly. How exactly does sending natural disasters and taking gifts or people from people, fit in with that? What kind of God do people really believe in? If I thought God took 3 of my siblings, my father, my grandparents or anything else in my life, just for kicks, just because He is sovereign and can do what he wants, why would I want to serve Him? That sounds creepy, scary and sadistic. Why do we totally dismiss that we have an enemy whose primary focus is to do the exact things that we all too often attribute to God?
Job did in fact say that the Lord gives and He takes away but one has to look at the context in which he said this. This was a man in the deepest moment of despair in his life. Just because he felt that way and said that, does not make it true. Earlier in Job, what went down was actually explained, it was the enemy who did it all, not God, and, in the end, God restored Job beyond what he’d had before. I’m sure, the day Job reached Heaven and was reunited with all of his children, he didn’t feel they were taken away or lost any longer.
Another thing that is curious in all this “Act of God” talk, is in remembering how the Pharisees said Jesus was healing people with the power of the enemy and Jesus responded by saying that a house divided against itself cannot stand. If the enemy made them sick or killed them, why would he turn around and make them well and raise them from the dead? Makes absolutely no sense at all. In fact, at least twice, we read about storms that were akin to natural disasters, wreaking havoc and Jesus calmed them. Here’s the thing. He said we are to do what He did and greater, and again, when the seas raged, about to kill people, He calmed them. He didn’t send them, he stopped them. The way I see it, believers have a responsibility here that in some circles, is being totally dismissed. Instead of making up slogans about how these disasters are acts of God in judgement of a nation gone awry, how about we do what Jesus did and greater? What about that part? Let’s speak to these “storms” and tell them where to go. Let’s learn who we truly are and take hold of the authority given us by our Heavenly Father, through Jesus’ sacrifice and do something about it instead of sitting back, blaming God for something He didn’t do. Let’s model Jesus as we were called to.