Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mother Nature

Tsunami's, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc....man, Mother Nature has been harsh lately.

Who in the world is Mother Nature anyway?

I find it fascinating this idea of "Mother Nature." While the reason for this post is not to analyze the name or concept of Mother Nature as much as it is to speak to the events we call natural disasters, please indulge me for a moment.

First of all, Mother implies a maternal female. So, a softer, gentler kind of image, no? Nature. The forces that swirl all around us and if not reigned in by this softer, feminine Mother capable of destroying us all.

Yet, here is the rub, no one ever really gets mad at Mother Nature. I mean we love it when she is kind and we are slightly amazed and sad when she is destructive but nobody ever really gets mad at her. I mean she's a mom so....how could we?

But...

What if it wasn't Mother Nature who dictates the weather patterns of the world? What then?

So, now for the meat of this post.

If the natural disasters of the world aren't caused by Mother Nature, then, what/who is the cause? I mean isn't that an important question? If we knew the cause, then, maybe somehow and in someway, we could alleviate the happenings of these disasters and live in a much more peaceful world.

*I'm not sure anyone actually believes that by the way, but it is kinda like an unspoken false hope.

And for those on the backside of a disaster it would answer the why question.

The options:

1) God does it.
2) Satan does it.
3) Because of pollution, population. and technology, humanity does it.
4) Total randomness with no rhyme or reason brought about by the evolutionary process.

So, what is the Biblical option?

I have heard many people defend option #1. EX: "Hurricane Katrina was God's judgement on a corrupt and offensive New Orleans." Sound familiar?

I have heard option #2. EX: "Satan is the ruler of this world, so until Jesus comes back he will destroy as he sees fit using the elements. This view can be held with or without a view on the sovereignty of God over Satan right now.

I certainly have heard #3. Just turn on NPR the week after a big natural disaster and you will hear it.

I have also certainly heard #4. Just do the same as #3.

But where is the truth? Is it really the judgement of God every time one of these disasters happens? Does Satan really have that much power in the world today and that every bad storm is a destructive tool of his? Have we really ruined the world so much through our living on the planet and our inventions that these things happen? Is it really all just completely random?

I say none of these options by themselves but shadings from each...shadings.

Does God use natural disasters as tools of judgment? Sure He does. You don't have to go too far into Genesis to get to the global flood during the days of Noah (Genesis chapters 6-9). God swallowed the Egyptian army in the red sea (Exodus chapter 14). He opened up the earth and swallowed up Korah and 250 other for their pride and rebellion (Numbers chapter 16). And that is just within the first four books of the Bible. The book of Job details that God is the master of all things in the natural world. The book of Psalms detail His dominion and control over the elements. Jesus demonstrated that he could calm a storm with three small words (The Gospel of Mark, chapter 4, verses 35-41). Revelation tells of the end of the world and the judgments that will fall some of which will be as natural disasters.

There are many others I could list but this just illustrates that, yes, God uses natural disasters because He has total dominion to do as He sees fit.

Does Satan use natural disasters to bring about death and destruction? I would land on the side of yes even though the direct examples from Scripture are not as specific. What we do know is that Satan is called the "Ruler of this World (the Gospel of John, chapter 12, verse 31)" and "The Prince of the Power of the Air (Letter to the Ephesians chapter 2, verse 2)." 2 Corinthians even calls Satan "the God of this World" in chapter 4, verse 4. We also know from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 10, that Satan "has come to kill, steal, and destroy." So, yes, I believe some natural disasters are brought about by the hand of Satan himself as the Lord grants Him sway to do so.

What about the presence of humanity and our "toys"? Without a doubt, I believe that we have done some damage to the world in which we live. We have not been the stewards that God called us to be at creation in the "tending of the garden" and have instead done exactly what we please in our focus on "subduing creation." There are some things we have done which can not be undone. Ex: extinct animals and overusing certain natural resources.

What about the #4? I believe there is a certain random-ness to some disasters today in as much as it depends on our point of view. As the Lord has said, "For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5, verse 45), " so I believe some things just happen in this world of ours. I do not believe in macro-evolution so the end part of number 4 is a non-issue for me and would be a completely separate discussion.

But while there is validity in each of these, it is the common factor that drives my post. What is it that unifys all four of these options?

Sin.

1) God does it.
- because of sin
2) Satan does it.
-because of sin
3) Because of pollution, population. and technology, humanity does it.
-because of sin
4) Total randomness with no rhyme or reason brought about by the evolutionary process.
 -because of sin

You see, the great answer (by great I mean big not fantastic) to the great question of why did Katrina happen? or Why did the tornado destroy parts OK just this last week? or Why did the tsunami kill thousands of people? should not be answered by trying to decide if it was God, the Devil, humanity, or mere chance's fault. All of those reasons, while partially valid in their own right, when used to answer the why question, are simply creating a scapegoat like we, as humanity, have been doing from the beginning in the days of Adam and Eve. It was Adam that said, "The woman whom You (God) gave to me... (the book of Genesis, chapter 3, verse 12) and by doing so tried to take the blame off of himself and put it onto God.

The answer to the why of natural disasters is actually very simple. Humanity rebelled against God and by doing so sinned. The effects of that sin and the punishment God brought upon the earth (Genesis chapter 3, verses 17-19) have been felt in ripples ever since. So, the answer to the why question is sin. No one is to ultimately be blamed or scapegoated other than us because we are the cause of it all, you and me and the sin I was born with, the sin you were born with, and the sin we have each committed throughout our lives times billions and billions of people.

Does God use natural disaters as a form of judgement? Yes. Sometimes. Because of our sin.
Does Satan use natural disasters as a form of seeking to kill, steal, and destroy? Yes. Sometimes. Because He hates us and he reviles in our sin.
Have we, by our lives and our toys, added to the reality of natural disasters? Yes. Sometimes. Because of our pride and selfishness, both of which are sins.
Are some of the disasters "just because" events? Yes. Sometimes. Because this world was cursed and is fallen because of our rebellion and sin.

When we focus on the why did this happen question, we miss the bigger and more important question.

Why don't natural disasters happen more frequently given the total mass of sin living in the humanity of the world today?

And that question is answered by only one great and glorious answer:

God.

It is His patience, His love, His goodness, His grace, His kindness, His compassion, and His mercy that stops all that we truly deserve from coming upon us.

So as we watch a horrible thing like what happened in OK happen in front of our eyes we should think two things:

1) I was a part of why that happened to those people. My sin contributed to that horrific event.
2) I am so overwhelmingly thankful that the Lord is good to us and that we haven't all been wiped out yet. Thank you God for staying your Holy hand from judging us all, right at this very moment.

Natural disasters are hard things to understand. But we shouldn't be shocked when they happen.

 And please, please....stop pretending as if "Mother Nature" had anything to do with anything. It is time to grow up and start taking responsibility. Adam and Eve would have served us all well if they had done that from the very beginning. Let's not follow in those footsteps.

Chris