Wednesday, May 19, 2010

...seeking biblical understanding when devastating acts of nature occur

The $64,000 question that seems most pundits are asking these days is: was what occurred in Louisiana, recently Nashville, and the other national disasters a cosmic mistake… a roll of the celestial dice? Was nature running wild while God was helplessly watching? How could a loving God allow such a thing to happen? And if He did allow (or cause) this to happen, then is He truly a loving God at all? Can God be both loving, omnipotent (all-powerful) and sovereign concurrently? On Bill Maher’s HBO "Real Time" program few years ago, he and others had the unabashed audacity to suggest that this was all President Bush's doing; that somehow the selfless relief efforts by thousands of volunteers helping those hurt most by this disaster was nothing short of a “racist act” by rich white people against poor black people. Preposterous! (Can liberals cease to be politically jaded for a moment on anything without using tragedy as a punch line for their biased agendas?)

What is the answer? How are we as Christians to respond to others when national disaster by phenomenal acts of nature happen? Can we love our neighbor and bring help and aid to them in the midst of their severe loss and still point them to the God of all creation as a witness to the gospel? The obvious short answer is yes.

God is Lord over all His creation; even hurricane Katrina—and He will accomplish His plans for His glory, even through this devastation and tragedy. God was not sleeping and He was in the storm.

So contrary to the Open Theists (Libertarian Free Will); the environmentalists; the sociologists; the politicians; the pundits; the racists; and the theological liberals – the following verses below are what the Scriptures teach about “Mother Nature” and Heaven’s Dread Sovereign. Mother Nature does not have a free will; she does not act of her own accord or desires; she does not engage in lugubrious augury; and with certainty, does not by chance target coastal cities known for their debauchery as an indiscriminate prejudicial judge. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no random occurrence by nature in this world—catastrophic or otherwise. Mother Nature's got a Father.

Read with awe of the transcendent omnipotence
of our holy God over all nature in this world,
and then fall to your knees in humble worship!

“Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are you not he, O Lord our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things” (Jeremiah 14:22).

“I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity. I am the Lord who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

When Jerusalem crumbled and Jeremiah saw many people that he loved captured and killed, the weeping prophet lamented with these profound words: “Who has spoken and it has come to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? Why should any living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord” (Lamentations 3:37-40).

Elihu exhorted Job that God was not absent from, but truly is, Lord of the storm: "From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds. By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world. Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen" (Job 37:9-13).

In chapter Job chapter 38, the Lord answers Job by sovereign interogation saying: "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who enclosed the sea with doors when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; when I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, and I said, "Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop? Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?” (Job 38:1-13).

"Who has cleft a channel for the flood, or a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land without people, on a desert without a man in it, to satisfy the waste and desolate land and to make the seeds of the grass to sprout? Has the rain a father? Or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb has come the ice? And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth? Water becomes hard like stone and the surface of the deep is imprisoned” (Job 38:25-30).

We need not look any further than those profound words from God’s Word. As we pray for and be of assistance to those who have been left destitute by this hurricane, we must also come to rest in the sure immutable unwavering truth that nothing can thwart God’s plans, purposes, and promises over His creatures and creation. In His wrath and in His mercy He will be glorified; for there is no injustice with God (cp, Romans 9:7-23).

In the end beloved, the issue comes down to this: are you prepared for eternity if your soul was required of you this hour; if a hurricane devasted your town? (cp, Luke 13:1-7).

Love your neighbor as yourself…
As the Day draws near,

an encore presentation


Jeremy Weaver said...


loren said...

Hi Steve,

This is by far the best treatment I've seen on this question, well done!

I think people have a hard time accepting that God was in the storm because they think of Him only as good, loving, kind and generous.

For Christians this is a little more understandable, because this is what He actually shows us of Himself in our walk with Him. He has not appointed us to wrath so we have a subjective tendency not to associate wrathful acts with Him (1 Thes 5:9).

To some extent, non-christians are seeing the skewed picture that we have painted for them as a result. When we tell them that God was in the storm, it changes everything, and their first reaction may be to shake their fist at Him. But the answer must be, that if God did not spare them, take heed lest He not spare you either.

"In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; and by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil."
(Prov 16:6)

Terry Rayburn said...

Well said.

And we need to guard against asserting "Why" God acted in a particular "Mother Nature" incident.

Anyone who claims they "know" or "think" why God "did" or "allowed" any natural occurence, needs to provide some authority for their speculation, or else it's just an opinion, which, like their belly button, everybody has (Adam being a reputed exception).

To claim, like a prophet, what God's intentions actually are (or are not) in these matters, is to invite unneccesary scorm from the world we are trying to communicate with.

Some scorn is inevitable, but let it be for the Gospel of grace, not from one of a bunch of pseudo-prophetic Christian "anchormen" reporting on the current-events mind of God.

Just a clarification:

By "authority", I don't mean some Scripture which says, for example, that God COULD exercise judgement on some city for a specific sin (of course He could), but that He actually DID.

The same God who kills Uzzah on the spot for touching the Ark to keep it from falling, warns us not to envy the wicked who live long lives of massive wealth and ease with no apparent problems in life.

That's sovereignty in action.


Bhedr said...

Amen on the Amen!
Amen as I cannot add to the thoughts you have nor the thoughts expressed here by the others. And they all said,"Amen!" or in Hong Kong and in Cantonese it would be "Sing sung saw yew!"

Calvinist Gadfly said...


Great post. I find it amazing that the same self-proclaimed evangelical leaders about a month ago who were crying out about how "Intelligent Design" is not being taught in public schools are now EMBARRASSED about intelligent design with regards to Katrina.

In other words, most evangelical Christians and leaders AGREE with evolutionists and naturalists that a divine being did not ordain Katrina...simply amazing.

Rather than siding with the Biblical Worldview of God's decrees in his creation, Christians side with naturalism...very telling.

See my blog post on this very subject early next week :-)

-Calvinist Gadfly

Sean MacNair said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ambiance-five said...

How do we know if it was God's judgement(to bring forth victory and mercy), or God allowing satan to touch all they have as in the picture of Job?

I am afraid I personally would not be the one to discern at this time.

Either way...God was either in it or allowed it.

littlegal_66 said...

I have heard parallels being drawn between the cities of New Orleans and Ninevah, with scriptures from the book of Nahum being cited. For example, Nahum 1:3, 8, and 10, 2:6 and 10, & 3:1, 3, and 6. (I'll give the text of some of those scriptures in a separate post). While these scriptures seem as though they could be applicable in New Orleans' case, they could most definitely be taken out of context, as well. I'm still on the fence in regards to comparisons of the two cities.

On the radio, I have heard Rush saying things like "some people were ordered to leave New Orleans, but refused, because they didn't want to miss their welfare checks." (I will admit that this was quite possibly the case in some instances). On television, I was floored when, as I viewed the Sept. 2 hurricane relief concert, I witnessed rapper Kanye West go off on his tirade (the look on Mike Myer's face as he tried to get back to the teleprompted script was priceless)! (View it here: Video of Kanye West tirade; read about it here:
Washington Post coverage) I was riveted to the Fox News Network for almost an entire week after the storm. And, as you stated, Campi, the liberals are unintentionally providing some much needed comic relief through all of this, by feebly attempting to play a political race card. Amazingly, Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin, are coming through this smelling like a pair of roses, and seemingly without any politicaly fallout.

Throughout all of the media coverage, a scripture from Proverbs has echoed through my thoughts, and I have used this scripture to keep things in perspective in my mind: "Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker, and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished." (Proverbs 17:5, KJV). Regardless of how I may have felt about some of the goings-on in New Orleans in the past, I am trying to also guard my thoughts and guard my words in regards to the city at present.

While some of the comments by the libs have been laughable, politicians (and political evangelicals) should proceed with caution. Using the tragedy for political gain could be translated into "mocking the poor" and "being glad at calamities." (So the answer, Campi, it seems, is: no, liberals can't cease to be politically jaded for a moment on anything without using tragedy as a punch line for their biased agendas).

littlegal_66 said...

These are the scriptures I referred to in my previous post:

(I am by no means attempting to pass judgement on the city of New Orleans; I'm only sharing some of the scriptures that I've heard recently in reference to this tragedy. [Although, admittedly, I can see some similarities]. I do believe God "hath His way in the whirlwind and the storm.")

"The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet."(Nahum 1:3, KJV)
"But with an overrunning flood He will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue His enemies." (Nahum 1:8, KJV)
"The river gates are thrown open, and the palace collapses." (Nahum 2:6, NIV)
"Nineveh is like a pool, and its water is draining away. 'Stop! Stop!" they cry, but no one turns back. (Nahum 2:8, NIV)
"She is pillaged, plundered, stripped! Hearts melt, knees give way, bodies tremble, every face grows pale."(Nahum 2:10, NIV)
"Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery: the prey departeth not." (Nahum 3:1, KJV)
"Charging cavalry, flashing swords and glittering spears! Many casualties, piles of dead, bodies without number, people stumbling over the corpses" (Nahum 3:3, NIV)
"And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock." (Nahum 3:6, KJV)

Brian said...

Katrina could have been an act of satan.

Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy...and the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

That may sit better with some, however, we all know that ultimately God is Sovereign over everything, including satan. Nothing takes place outside of (or thwarts) God's will.


John Rush said...

Check out Psalm 29.

See if God is not involved in the storm.


Tim said...

I think in all honesty we do know the reason for the storm. Romans 1:18 is pretty authoritative in describing the fact that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven upon all ungodliness. I wrote on the topic of Katrina on my blog as well and clearly we should see it as judgment from God. However, let me be quick to say, that we have obviously experienced the mercy of God for the time being. Do we not deserve the same and even greater? The simple answer is "yes we do". Therefore, I recommend that we see opportunities for presenting the gospel to those whom God has spared through the hurricane. Surely some of His people must be among them. They are not being driven throughout the states without purpose brothers and sisters.

littlegal_66 said...

tim said: "Therefore, I recommend that we see opportunities for presenting the gospel to those whom God has spared through the hurricane. Surely some of His people must be among them. They are not being driven throughout the states without purpose brothers and sisters."

Yes--and doesn't this bring a whole new meaning to "taking heaven by storm?"

By the way, this is slightly OT, but I'd like to take this opportunity to let you guys know how much I appreciate you and this little forum. You ALL have such great insight and always bring up great points. I enjoy Campi's articles, as well as your comments immensely, and I am learning a lot from all of you faithful men of God. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of this phenomenal blog. Sometimes I feel like a "tag-a-long," but this mathetria is thrilled to be a part, and blessed to be able to tag alongside you guys.

Under His Love,

Tim said...

I thought you all might want to see a residents view of New Orleans before, during and after the storm. A great documentary of pictures and description of what took place there. It's linked from my blog:

DOGpreacher said...

Thanks, Steve. God used a faithful servant to introduce me to God AND His sovereignty in all things. The first thing I read along these lines, was the 2 volume biography of George Whitefield. The letters between John Wesley and George Whitefield were before my eyes, along with my bible for 8 days (This was in a period when I had been crushed between 2 fork lifts, and was bedridden for a lot of 2 years, & surgeries), and I never quit reading. I promised God I would be His servant (whatever that would be), and would be a workman, diligently after understanding of His word, and counting on the Holy Spirit to teach me and guide me.

The sovereign unilateral act that is God saving sinners is so personal and awesome isn't it?!
Thanks for being a servant...I am..

grateful for grace

DOGpreacher said...

oops...sorry...I thought I was commenting on the 'Spurgeon/Calvinism' post that came after this one.

Alexander M Jordan said...

Hi Steve:

I agree with you Steve. God's sovereignty certainly includes these "natural" disasters. I always think of the response of Jesus (in Luke 13: 1-7) when He was asked about some (Galileans, and also those killed by the falling tower of Siloam) who had suffered. Why did this happen, they asked?

Jesus answered that it was not because they were any more sinful than anyone else, and then went on to warn those hearing Him to repent, lest they too die suddenly and end up perishing (in hell).

Applying this same principle to Katrina, it seems that Jesus might say today that the people of New Orleans were not any more sinful than any one else, but that we too should take such events as a warning and make sure that we have repented and are right with God, while there is still time. I wrote about this same topic on my blog Jordan's View

John Piper also has an excellent word on this (


DOGpreacher said...

Katrina was an 'instrument of death' to hundreds a couple weeks ago. There were old, young, white, brown, black, etc. that died.However, in the grand scheme of things, there were only 2 types of people that died at 'her' hands. There were the saved, and the lost. Which ever of these 2 types one fell into, no one was treated unfairly or cheated, and God was glorified in all.

WHAT or WHEN will your KATRINA (instrument of death) be?, THAT is the question!

Whatever, and whenever yours is, and whichever "type" you are, the sovereign Lord of all WILL be glorified! I am...
grateful for grace

SJ Camp said...

My friend Alan, better known as The Calvinist Gadfly has an excellent article out right now on this issue featuring interview commentary by Rick Warren when he appeared last week on Good Morning America.

This is a must read. Go to the blogroll and click on The Calvinist Gadfly and enjoy.


SJ Camp said...

Here is the link for you all:

The Calvinist Gadfly

Bhedr said...

Warren: Right. Well, first thing we need to understand that not everything that happens in this world is God’s will.

No thanks Steve, I don't need to read any more of this. Good Grief!

donsands said...

Nice post. Very glorifying to the Lord of heaven and earth.

God is more sovreign then we could imagine. The oceans are His oceans. The hurricanes are His hurricanes. The hearts of the kings are in His hands.

I have a friend who has been to New Orleans a dozen times or so, and has helped out in many ways. He shared some photos and gave his testimony at my church, and it was difficult to look upon the devastation, but it was encouraging to see the main people helping out was the Body of Christ.

I saw Rick Warren way back when on Fox News speaking about Katrina. It made my heart heavy to hear Him speak of our Lord the way he did.

Brian said...

Rick Warren probably doesn't understand (or believe in) the difference between God's expressed will and his secret will...

Logic from that side goes like this. "God is not pleased with the perishing of the wicked, and in this event the wicked perished, therefore God did not cause it (because he wouldn't do something contrary to what would please him)."

Theology matters.

Captured! said...

At least three of our PCA church buildings were severly damaged in Katrina. The ministries at Desire Street, near Ward 9 where the impoverished youth in the project areas live, were destroyed and displaced as a result of the storm. The loss of resources they all incurred is still unfathomable. Hundreds upon hundreds of people were displaced or worse. Yet, the Lord reestablished faithful laborers and showed us that the Chrurh is not a series of buildings or a bunch of belongings. The Church are hands and feet and hearts of Christ.

I was saddened by remarks of those who felt that the inhabitants of the cities 'deserved' the disaster. I painfully watched the reports on TV of babies, the elderly, and the sick who were dying, and some people were dying openly, suffering without food or water or any help. I didnt see this storm so much about God's judgement on New Orleans or Biloxi but more about one's faith in God to challenge our priorities as Christians by putting faith into action. Many acted on the opportunity to give, fervently pray or personally go to aid in the process of cleaning up, rebuilding, and providing assistance to Christians and non-Christians alike. I saw it more about God bringing good out of evil and restoring lives.

jazzycat said...

The national global warming propaganda committee would like to announce that all meetings are suspended until normal weather returns and we can dig out of the snow……….

SJ Camp said...

ROFL - one of the best I've heard.
Thank you!!

Michele Rayburn said...

Funny that Jazzycat should mention that. Terry and I were just listening to some political humor coming from a recent show of Rush Limbaugh's that really made us laugh today:

"From the Drudge Report...'Pelosi announces Global Warming panel.' The headline is under a picture of a frozen orange with 5 inch icicles on it."


"Pelosi is going to announce her Global Warming panel in 30 minutes...37 degrees in Frisco, 36 degrees in Santa Barbara...43 degrees in San Diego...37 degrees in Houston. Maybe she should wear earmuffs when she announces the Global Warming panel!"

Baptist Girl said...

Great Post! God is control

“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:33) .. Therefore, “if God is for us, who can be against us? . . .Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:31-37). John Piper


john said...

My family and I were involved in helping people from the storm that came here to San Antonio. The shelters were only a few miles from our house.

I guess I'm just trying to figure out what the point of this post is? Rubbing salt in an open wound.

At the end of the day, I suppose you can believe that God is responsible for everything bad that happens as well as everything good. But in addition to Katrina, we'd have to include my dad's cancer, the Amish school shooting last year, and persecution of saints around the globe.

Again, what's the point of this post? Would you feel the same way if it was YOUR home that was destroyed?

To the people equating New Orleans to Ninevah, I certainly agree that there was some bad stuff going on there. But be careful not to find satisfaction in its destruction. That was Jonah's sin.

We should all still pray for that area and do what we can to help the people there. If you think the darkness has lifted because of this disaster, then you haven't been watching the news. It's gotten worse there. The murder rate is through the roof.

Steve Camp said...


Your issues lie with a faulty view of the character of God. He is sovereign; He is in control of all things; He does not cause all things, such as sin and the evil effects of sin. BUT, whatever others may mean for evil, the Lord will cause for our own good.

If it was my house that was destroyed I would believe the same way. I have been through much pain and loss in my life John, and through it all, He has received the praise and the glory--even through many tears.

One week ago my two older sons were assaulted for defending a weaker young man from getting beat up by a group of other high school guys. My oldest son (17) was blindsighted by a guy with a pipe and suffered a severe double-break in his jaw. He went through surgery and had his jaws wired shut for the next six weeks. He and my other son acted as men and I couldn't be more proud of them. In the midst of this trial that has affected us all deeply, we thank the Lord for His protection and for allowing this to touch our lives to draw us closer to Christ and to make my sons more like Jesus.

We are also praying for these young men who did this terrible thing to not only be brought to justice, but to come to salvation through the gospel of grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. There have even been threats made against my three younger kids as well. BUT, the Lord is sovereign and our rest is in Him alone.

You can be flippant if you want to, but the Lord is in control. I have pastor friends in New Orleans that are faithfully rebuilding. You would do well to spend some time with them...

"Yet though you slay me, I will still hope in you..." said Job. And he also said, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away..." but John, "blessed be the name of the Lord."

Trusting in Him even when it hurts,
Jer. 9:23-24

john said...

I'm sorry to hear about your sons. I pray they'll recover quickly and fully.

The Katrina button is one that's sensitive for me. I have many conservative friends that have said all sorts of idiotic stuff about that tragedy - from "sinners get what they deserve" to "those people are better off now anyway".

It also smacks of Pat Robertson and other right wing leaders making similar comments about 9/11.

I disagree that God specifically sets aside vengence like that. I think it's a result of a fallen world. I do think that God cries with us when stuff like that happens.

I don't doubt that God is in control in a larger sense. But I haven't seen evidence that He intervenes in the affairs of men nearly as often as some would believe.

Call me a deist if you must, but after years of living life and studying scripture, that's where I come down.

Lasaro said...

Brother Steve, I praise God for your stand on the sovereignty of God. Sad to say, that many professing Christians try to bring God's thoughts and ways to our level. But the Scriptures make it very clear that God is in control of all things, from our conception even to our time of death, with everything in between, including our salvation."But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased" (Ps. 115:3).

Keep on being faithful to God and His inerrant Word in Jesus Christ's Name! Amen.

Bu His Sovereign Grace,

Bro. Lasaro Flores

All Of Grace Ministries

Michele Rayburn said...


We're so sorry to hear about what happened to your son. We hope and pray that he will recover completely. And we pray for your children's safety as well.

And we will also pray that those boys involved in this assault and those threats will come to know the Lord.

Please send the children our love.

Michele and Terry

Anonymous said...

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G. Casey said...

One can take a perspective of how the fall resulted in consequence in nature. Then the Flood came soon after (and some 200 religions even have flood legends in their culture), then came seasons, tradewinds, etc. Hurricanes do have a purpose in recourse of seasons and tradewinds changing. We can still pray that will oversee their intensities.

G. Casey said...

Oops,we can still pray that God will oversee the intensities and direction with all mercy.

Anonymous said...

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icouldbe said...

I do hope you and yours are well Mr. Camping. What if what "caused" Hurricane Katrina was an intense low pressure area over warm ocean and poor maintenance of the levies in many of the effected areas? What if No Deity was involved but it is just what it is, a weather phenomena with tragic effects on the people in its path? Personally I dont believe this, but by your standards I would not be a Christian. I heard that most of my "Christian life".

As silly as this sounds I wanted to go respond but physical health problems and financial obligations required I stay. I count that a personal failing on my part. I did give what I could afford, and yes I would love to spend time with those pastors, it would be an honor to serve those fine people.

I know this post is emotional, something a Christian should never ever feel or experience, but I admit I struggle with such events. I should not, but I do. As for what happened to your sons good for them standing up for another person, I hope they find justice and protection. The young men that did this find repentance and forgiveness. It was wrong what they did to your sons, even from my cynical stand point it is wrong. If I could ask a favor, please do not feel any obligation what so ever, but have you ever researched the issues of Evolution and origins. I will admit I can be and often am wrong, but I struggle with this.

All that aside I wish I could do more for the people of the gulf coast, I really do. If God grants me one hope, it is to give all I have for Him and His, and everyone who needs help.

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