Q: Dear Pastor,
Why does God bring hurricanes on people? Is he angry at them?

A: When a horrible thing happens in our world, we are quick to say, “Why, God?” No doubt there are folks in the middle of the coastal areas thinking the same thing right now. It is human nature to want to blame someone or make sense of the thing that has occurred. However, the question God taught me to ask him in the face of catastrophe is not “Why me,” it is “What now?” Matthew 4:45 says, “For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

God gets blamed for all kinds of problems and disasters that he has nothing to do with. He put our Earth in orbit and commanded that our light-source rise and set each day. God then decided there would be rain for our water supply and crops. These are all blessings from the Lord that illustrate his love of his creation and for our survival on Earth. Yet because the whole Earth was crippled when Adam and Eve believed what Satan said instead of what God had warned on that fateful day, things are not right in our world. They are out of order.

Instantly the Earth began to die. People, too. Weather patterns changed. Strife and trial were introduced. The fact that there is very little loss of human life in spite of the magnitude of disasters these days, shows us that God’s hand protects hundreds of thousands of people. Food for thought: water represents cleansing in the Bible. God has a plan to use hurricanes and floods for his good purposes. Restoration, cleansing and new beginnings are in store for hurricane-affected areas.

Some people say that natural disasters are obviously the result of global warming. Perhaps. The cause of a damaged atmosphere is certainly the fault of mankind, as the Bible illustrates. Unfortunately, an environmental issue so clearly explained in scripture has been politicized these days. Our planet has been off kilter since human beings left the Garden of Eden, yet special interest groups act like they invented the idea of a broken Earth and point fingers at people they believe to be the cause. Still, despite the hurricane and on-going flooding this past week, countless Americans have left jobs, family and comfort to jump in the water with the survivors and be a blessing in the clean-up. They’ve decided to act on “What now” without the need to know why or point fingers.

Once, I was traveling from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Terre Haute, Indiana, after a major hurricane hit landfall. As soon as I headed south from Indianapolis, I was following four air-boats on trailers pulled by regular looking folks in pickups. “That’s America,” I said proudly. I’d never seen an airboat in my life, let alone on a freeway — but I believe four people decided to love their neighbor in a tangible way. And they weren’t in the slow lane, either.

Natural disasters test our faith in a loving God. There are people at this moment throwing their hands up and walking away from Christianity because a god they believed in would never send a hurricane to hurt them. That tragedy in itself (the loss of faith) is only worsened by the fact that the individual based their relationship with God on a fairytale, not the truth. People are great at cherry-picking the likeable attributes of God and leaving behind what doesn’t suit. I call this, “The-ATM-mentality.” We punch in whatever we want and require God to spit out exactly what we’ve ordered. If he doesn’t perform to our specifications, we walk away. “After all,” we smirk, “what good is God if he doesn’t help me when I need him?”

Fair-weather Christians are missing out on a real relationship with a real God based on trust. Knowing Christ also means trusting him even when we don’t understand what’s happening or why.

— Adrienne Greene pastors the Rockdale United Methodist Church near Harrison, OH. Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Please send your inquiries to: heavenchasepub@gmail.com or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030. Facebook.com/adrienne.w.greene