“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. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:8-1.

We are looking at the movie The Impossible this week as part of our At The Movies series. No movie can capture or duplicate the devastation of the 2004 tsunami that the film is based on. Over 230,000 people died. Nor can the movie capture the human suffering of  hospitals overflowing with the injured. Or the survivors searching for missing loved ones by studying the walls covered with pictures of the hospitalized. And no film can capture the grief when their worst nightmare is realized and they find their loved ones in makeshift morgues. So many families were shattered on that day.

It is easy to look at the carnage of this movie, glance skyward and ask God “why?”  Why would God allow this to happen? It is hard to grasp that the God of love would be involved in such a horrific natural disaster. We believers try to protect God’s reputation by putting distance between Him and the terrible suffering that occurred that day in 2004. Theologians all agree that nature is fallen and as a result there are faults in the earth that cause earthquakes, and earthquakes cause tidal waves. So, the theory goes that God watches, but is only marginally related to these events. After all, God is good and would not cause such devastation to happen.

But a moment’s reflection will soon make us realize that of course God is the ultimate cause of all natural disasters. During the time of the plagues in Egypt, clearly God sent those plagues. Then you have the time of Noah; the flood obviously was sent by God. It says regarding Jonah, God hurled a storm into the sea.

The tsunami happened because God chose to let it happen. The question is why?  I can’t begin to answer that question, but I will say this. Our challenge is to somehow continue to believe God and to trust Him in the midst of horrendous devastation. When you see children being separated from their fathers and mothers, when you see lives being torn and many thousands of people people dead, it is very natural to ask the question, “Where is God?”

What we need to realize is that God can be trusted, even when it seems as if He is not on our side. We have to point people to the fact that God has intervened in our planet by sending Jesus Christ. There we see the love of God most clearly. The other thing you need to realize is that time is short and eternity is long. Sometimes we reverse that. The values that we have here on this earth, although life is precious, the fact is that earthquakes do not increase death. Everybody is going to die someday. But we also need to remember that God has already dealt with evil – moral and natural (floods, hurricanes) – through the cross and the resurrection. God has acted and evil has been given a death sentence. It’s not as if God allows bad things to happen and that’s his final word. 

Let me close this devotional with this illustration. All of Job’s 10 children died in a natural disaster. There was a wind storm that blew down the house. (Job 1:18-19) Job was confronted with the fact that because of a natural disaster, there are 10 fresh graves on the hilltop. So now what is he going to do?

His wife tells him to curse God and die. But Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”  (Job 1:21) Job shows us it is possible to worship God even without explanations, even when we don’t know all the reasons. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. It’s during our “very bad days” that we wrestle with the question of “why does God allow this?”  Why do you think God allows bad things to happen to you?
  2. When we go through difficulties, there is a definite purpose awaiting us down the road. Agree or disagree?  Can a tragedy be a blessing in disguise?
  3. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” The “all things” in that verse means exactly what it says. All things. Do you believe that means bad things as well as good things.
  4. Pray and ask God for the strength to trust Him in times of tragedy and trials.