When the Hurricane Hits

By September 9, 20179 Comments

Virtually all of us have been watching tv news reports about the shocking destruction of Hurricane Harvey in Texas even as we await the devastation of Florida and the east coast by Hurricane Irma. Right in between, a massive earthquake struck in Mexico. These disasters have already resulted in deaths, destruction, homelessness, and there’s more to come. And every time disaster strikes, people ask the same age old question. How could God let this happen?

So how do we respond to this question? If God is good, why are there terrible disasters like hurricanes?  Why are there earthquakes, tornadoes and floods that kill innumerable people and destroy communities? There are no simple or completely satisfactory answers to these questions. But here are six quick biblical concepts we can remember when disaster strikes.

First, it’s an absolute truth that God is sovereign in all these matters. These hurricanes didn’t  surprise God; He wasn’t shocked by any other evil event we’ve experienced. God says this in Isaiah 45:7: “I form light and create darkness, I make success and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.” Just as God is the sovereign Creator, so He is sovereign over disasters.

Second, our problem is that we don’t know His purposes. And it’s a terrible mistake to assert that they are even knowable.  That’s why God declared through Isaiah: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).” We can’t explain God’s intentions nor should we ever try. We just know God is there and He is good.

Third, we need to remember that tragic events are not necessarily related to the specific behavior of nations or individuals. Evil things happen because we live in an evil and fallen world. People get terminal diseases, planes crash, tidal waves overwhelm communities. Paul wrote in Romans 8:22, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

Fourth, Jesus taught that disasters, whether natural or man-made, are a reminder of God’s mercy. In Luke 13:1-9, responding to the question of why God allowed evil, Jesus said that bad things happen to some people, not because they are “more evil” than others. According to Jesus, if God were to act based on our behavior, disaster and devastation would be the norm, not the exception. We all sin, and if God responded based on what we deserve, we’d all be devastated. This is what Jeremiah meant when he wrote, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail” (Lam 3:22). It is only God’s loving mercy that prevents Him from destroying all of us instantly.

Fifth, God uses suffering to remind us to turn to Him. When we see natural disasters strike others, Jesus said that this was the reminder for us to turn to God before we perished as well (Luke 13:3-5). That’s the very reason the Psalmist wrote, “I turn to the Lord in my distress, and He answers me (Psalm 120:1).” C. S. Lewis wrote: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world .” God uses our pain and sorrow, to get our attention and remind us turn to Him for comfort.

Sixth, God uses tragic events to remind us that we’re not home yet.  It’s so easy to get overly comfortable here on earth, never to want to leave, as if this was the best God has for us. But there is yet an eternity. Suffering on this earth reminds us that God intends a far better home for us in the future. These “present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Rom 8:18).” Disasters remind us not to allow ourselves to become overly comfortable and satisfied with this world but remember that we’re citizens of a far better, future world, where every tear will be wiped away, and all pain and sorrow will be removed.

One last thought: Dorothy Sayers said that when it comes to the problem of evil, this must be said, “God took His own medicine.” In the Messiah Jesus, God entered this world as a fully human person, and not only suffered with us, but suffered for us, that through His death and resurrection, we can have life forever.


  • Avatar vivian says:

    Thank you. My husband and I live in Florida and are awaiting the storm.
    Biblical Truth is necessary to keep our minds and hearts in alignment with
    the Lord’s heart, so we are not tempted to fear or doubt!

  • Avatar Wayne Facey says:

    Amen Dr Rydelnik that is so true, although we are comfortable on the earth God as created, like that he gets our attention with disaster, to remind us he created the heavens and the earth ? ?❤️

  • Avatar Sue Miller says:

    Excellent reminder in these present times.

  • Thank you for this article. It puts things into perspective.

  • Avatar Carol templeton says:

    Loved this article. I believe every single word. Very well written. Thank you

  • Avatar Rev. Deborah Hughes says:

    Awesome Response!!!!! You answered so many questions for me!

  • Avatar Amy Bufano says:

    I heard you speak this on last Saturday’s show,Im so grateful to have this to read over and let it sink in. Ive been saddened by people in high standing in their faith saying its God’s wake up call or judgement. Who can know the mind of God? amen sir, amen.

  • Avatar Perry collins says:

    Hey Doc! We live in north Fla and just indured hurricane Irma ! We lost power for 4 days but we just cranked up our little generator and had a small ac window unit going in the bedroom to indure the oppressive Fla heat, our yard was trashed with limbs and leaves everywhere oovee! Such a mess, but my wife and I made the best of it and cooked on the sceened in back porch ate by candle light praised God for sparing us the worst, my best friend lived on big pine key and lost everything including her entire house just blown away after 30 yrs she doesnt know what to do next she works as a teachers aid and will retire in 1&1/2 yrs so sad she has a go fund me site brenda hodges, anyway were used to hurricanes here in Fla and it puts it all in perspective you take paridise with the bad and God does protect his children!! Thru all kinds of storms, now if he would just do something with all these mositoes that blew up here with the storm from the everglades !! God bless you brother i listen to your show every saturday morning go Cubs !!

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