• God in the aftershock

    Posted by Micah

    12 March, 2010

    Micah Challenge International Director, Joel Edwards reflects on God and natural disasters

    Does putting God 'in the dock' over disasters or poverty issues help us see who he really is? The age-old question of Caring God vs Tyrannical Bully raises its head again in the wake of new year disasters...

    Why does a good God allow disasters such as earthquakes in Haiti and Chile to happen? It's the question which has put Christians on the spot for centuries. Great minds such as the Christian apologist C S Lewis and more contemporary writers such as Philip Yancey have wrestled with God and the problem of pain.

    The question pushes Christians in a tight place because it actually puts God himself in the dock. And there isn't anybody alive who hasn't done that at some point. And it's an important issue because what it does in effect is to raise a fundamental question about whether or not God really is concerned with our well being or just a very big bully who has bouts of kindness.

    Asking questions about God's goodness in disasters is one thing; demonising God is quite another. And it turns out that it's a lot easier to disobey God if you make him out to be the unreasonable bad guy to start with. Demonising God is the prelude to disobeying God - which is precisely what happened in the Garden of Eden.

    But it's always interesting that the people who ask those questions are the spectators of natural disasters.

    A year after the great tsunami which devastated Asia I had the opportunity to visit India in order to see how World Vision was responding to support local people. Even a year later the scenes were catastrophic. Again and again we met people whose homes, families and livelihoods had been swept away in the deluge. But I shall never forget what we learned as westerners.

    It was that the vast majority who were living through the disaster were not asking the same questions about God. What I found was gratitude; a rediscovery of faith, self and neighbour. I saw Muslims, Hindus and Christians working together to restore some kind of normality. And as one man said to us, "We lost everything but we found God."

    None of this takes the pain away. But it does make sense of the concept of hope in all we do in the fight against poverty and injustice. When people ask us important questions about God and disasters they deserve a lot more than trite responses. They deserve authentic responses. And mostly those responses will come not from the clinical wisdom of western academics practitioners or clergy but from the lips of those who have miraculously rediscovered God and themselves in the aftershocks others of us read about.

    Click here to read the rest of Joel's blog post