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When Nature Groans

We’ve got some strange weather going on right now in Southern California. It’s raining, the wind is blowing, and yesterday there were tornados in Riverside County. One person died as a result. No life is inconsequential, but there’s no comparison between the problems and inconveniences we’re having and the horrific aftermath of the natural disasters that occurred in Myanmar and China, where the combined loss of life is expected to top 100,000.

When you read reports or watch video about the misery that people endure in the wake of these trajedies, you can’t help but feel a sense of helplessness. You can contribute and maybe even volunteer to help the victims, but there’s no assurance that such holocausts of nature will not occur again. In fact, you know it’s only a matter of time before another hurricane hits or an earthquake strikes. And you wonder: Can we trust this life-giving sphere that is usually so good to us? It all seems rather capricious, especially when those who are least able to handle the terrestrial blast of wind, flood, and fire—the poor and the disadvantaged—are often hit the hardest.

How do we deal with the suffering that inevitably comes from such a disasters? What are our options? We can believe that nature has run amok and is out of God’s control. Or we can believe that nature is all there is, with no God to care or wield any authoritative restraint. Those are more or less the options of people who have given up on God. They aren’t very comforting, are they? If nature is the beginning and the end of all things, and we are mere pawns in a game of chance and natural selection (it’s survival of the fittest, you know), then there is no need to wonder why we suffer, because there is no explanation.

People who still hold out for a belief in some kind of God—and most of the world operates this way—look beyond nature for answers. In this realm of belief, there are multiple views. One is that God is using nature to inflict punishment on His wayward created beings. He did it once—remember the Great Flood?—and He could do it again. For that to be the case, however, God would have to go against His promise to humankind to never inflict such worldwide harm again.

We need to look elsewhere for some kind of explanation, though none can be found to satisfy everyone. Perhaps a partial answer is found in the New Testament. In his letter to the first-century Roman church, the apostle Paul writes:

The creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time (Romans 8:21-22).

Even creation is under the weight of sin and suffering, brought into this world by rebellious acts of free moral agents. It isn’t that God has lost control. He is merely allowing the natural world He created to operate in a dynamic way. Despite the natural evil that does occur from time to time, our finely-tuned world functions superbly 99 percent of the time, allowing us to not only survive but also thrive. We may never fully understand the reason why God allows natural evil to happen, but we can take comfort in the fact that He is still in control, still offering His mighty hand to those who put their trust in Him. The psalmist David writes:

The Lord rules over the floodwaters. The Lord reigns as king forever. The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace (Psalm 29:10-11).

Meanwhile, just as nature groans, we must also groan—with compassion—for those affected by Earth’s sometimes unexplainable behavior. If we are to find meaning in any of this, perhaps we can find it in the help we can give to those who suffer.

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No one is exempted from suffering, we to deal with it everyday in our life. It is part of life. - Michael Courouleau

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Stan's entire life has been wrapped in content: selling, writing and publishing books and resources that help ordinary people capture a glimpse of extraordinary things.