Why Doesn’t God Stop Or Prevent Natural Catastrophes?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t stop all of the world’s natural catastrophes? God has very good reason not to.

Atheists’ Belief About God

One of the arguments for the non-existence of God is that if God is all powerful, why doesn’t He stop natural catastrophes or cancer or pain or death… and if He doesn’t, perhaps He’s incapable to stopping it, and if so, then He’s not God, but if He is God and can stop it, but chooses not to, then they say, “He is a sadistic God who loves to watch people suffer.” It seems that we like to blame God for everything that goes wrong in the world, but rarely do we give Him credit for the good. We attack God’s Person for allowing evil and suffering and neglect to give Him thanks for the good things we all take for granted, but mankind is not off the hook. Mankind is actually responsible for the suffering in the world and not God. Since these who ask, “Where was God when…” I ask them, “Since you don’t believe in God, guess what, who’s left to pin the blame on?” Of course it’s mankind, so they want to slam God for allowing suffering while taking no responsibility for mankind’s own part in it. They ask, “Where was God when…” but I tell them, He was in the same place when He watched His one and only Son die for those of us who didn’t deserve it. God allowed Christ to suffer for our sake, so what’s fair about that? Really, we don’t want God to be “fair” because we’d all be cast into hell because that’s what we all deserve anyway (Rom 3:10-12, 23, 6:23). Then they might say, “Where was God when there was a school shooting or a massacre in the mall,” I say, “Don’t you remember, you kicked God out of the schools and out of the public square, and now you’re asking, “Where was God?” I ask, “Where were you!?”

Why Suffering is Allowed

If we look at the cross, we can see that God allows much suffering for infinite good. We can’t blame God for things in our life when it’s a fallen world and the world’s sins are gathering momentum in creating more suffering, but one good thing suffering does (besides the cross) is to humble us and break down our pride. God must sometimes allow suffering in our lives so that we might cry out to Him and ask Him for mercy. God can use suffering to soften a person’s heart, make them evaluate their life, and then see that they are hopeless without Christ. If suffering brings us to our knees where we repent and put our trust in Christ, then suffering has done the greatest work in a person’s life that can be done, acknowledging of course that only God brings repentance (2nd Tim 2:25). God has promised in His Word that all things happen for our own good (Rom 8:28), including the bad, and I would say, especially the bad.

God’s Sovereignty

God told the ancient nation of Israel the same thing He would tell any nation today and that is “the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lord is giving you” (Deut 11:17). That type of suffering was expected to bring Israel to repentance, so even the evil done to Israel (brought on by their own disobedience) will be good if it makes them come to their senses and return to God. That’s one way God uses suffering for His purposes.

Good from Evil

How could God use 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the giant tsunami that hit Japan? Ironically (or not), after a great catastrophe, the churches sometimes are filled with people who are hurting, who have been humbled by losing everything, but by their losing everything, they might gain all things by trusting in Christ. Nothing can be greater than that, can it? Although few showed up in churches in the aftermath of the 9/11 disaster in the United States, at least some put their trust in Christ as a result of this disaster. In God’s economy, suffering is never wasted. He can use these natural catastrophes to draw people to themselves by humbling them and making them see what is really important in life, and of course, that’s a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. One pastor told me that he was once scheduled to speak at a convention of pastors about how they can start or expand outreaches in their churches. The night before he thought he’d get in a little exercise, so he went out for a walk but somehow missed the front curb and stepped into a drainage ditch and broke his leg. Of course he was rushed to the hospital and was unable to attend the conference, but after a few weeks when he began his physical therapy, there was a young woman who was his therapist and she started sharing some of the burdens she had. She was a single mother who felt totally overwhelmed by life. She finally broke down one day and the pastor was able to point her to Christ as being the most important thing in her life right now. She did put her trust in Christ and later, so did her children. This one disaster that the pastor just couldn’t understand brought this woman and her whole household into the kingdom of God. God used this man and his suffering to bring this woman and her family to eternal life in Christ. Can anything really compare with that? What’s one speaking engagement compared to the eternity these people will have!


God will stop all of the suffering in the world someday…but it’s not today. It will happen in the future kingdom, where the Apostle John writes that God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:4). Using that verse, we can see that nothing in this life can compare with that glorious future that we’ll see someday (Rom 8:18). All things are in God’s sovereign hands. Nothing catches Him by surprise. He knows how to make bad into good. He gave us the prime example of that in Jesus Christ Who gave His life as a ransom for many. Are you one of the many? If not, click on our “Come to Jesus” and you might enter the kingdom yourself.

Read more here: Bible Verses About Weather

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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