WHEN AN EXTRAORDINARY interruption by a natural cause happens, people would start to ask questions that has something to do with God allowing such a thing to occur. If he is such a good and just God, why would he let such a thing? One would hear the echo of this type of inquiry around meals or in coffee shops.
A day before the Taal eruptions (Sunday, January 12, 2020), I heard a family conversation of a person’s struggle in trying to comprehend why a good God would allow the bush fires in Australia. My concern towards the person increased all the more the next day when Taal erupted and covered Tagaytay and the nearby towns with ash fall. And around the dinner table that Sunday night with some of our dear pastors, it made me remember the general content of Dr. Broocks’ email to me almost seven years prior.
I had a similar experience when Janssen and I went to Tacloban in the aftermath of the super typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. Nineteen days after that fateful day, we got the chance to see the situation up close. Around that dinner table, a well-to-do gentleman asks a question directed to us after we were introduced as pastors. He first gave a premise that he never shed a single tear when his father passed away. Only in Tacloban that he cried a bucket of tears as he has seen bodies of babies taken out of the rubbles every day.
“Pastor, if God is good, why would he allow these things to happen? Don’t get me wrong; I am not an atheist. I can not comprehend such a God letting babies perish with their lives still ahead of them. I see bodies of babies every single day since I was here!”
Answers started flying all over the place. I have never seen such highly opinionated individuals in one table! When it was my turn, I just asked his email address so I can send my answer to him since I will have a run the next day with the evacuees together with the running priest, Fr. Robert Reyes.
Before going to bed, more like a mat on the floor, I immediately send an SOS message to my friend, best-selling author (God’s Not Dead, Man Myth Messiah, and the Human Right) Dr. Rice Broocks via Direct Message on Twitter.
(10/27/13, 11:28 PM) Rice, I am currently in Tacloban. Yes, the worst hit by Haiyan/Yolanda. About to sleep approaching midnight here. I have a question over dinner: If God is such a just God, why were these innocent children die such a violent death? (Talking about kids who didn’t survive Haiyan). What is your initial answer to this logical question? [My email: ____].
Rice’s response to my DM came the very next day via email. And since the Taal eruption is still fresh in the minds of the people, I decided to revive my decade-old inactive website, so I can have a platform on which I could post Rice’s response.
Here is Rice Broocks’ epistle to the running pastor:
I just got the DM [Twitter’s direct message].
There is no easy answer to the impact of natural evil.
Here are some thoughts:
1) Just like the rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous, so do the floods and other natural calamities. Believers and unbelievers are all affected.
2) We live in a fragile world, yet the Universe at large is a vast dark, hostile place.
The fact that we have so few of these disasters is a miracle. We live on an island of life amid a dark, cold universe.
3) Earthquakes, typhoons, and volcanoes serve a purpose. They help regulate the earth’s temperature and make life on earth possible in many ways.
4) At the same time, we have the capability as humans to anticipate such impending calamities and minimise and even avoid loss of life in many cases. We have come a long way in this area yet.
We are called to take dominion over the earth and given the ability to reason with God to accomplish this. (What if a man were like all the other animals? We wouldn’t even be aware of what happened. We would be defenseless and response-less).
Just as the islands and landmasses have appeared suddenly out of the water, they are, therefore, dangerous places to live.
No one would build a town at the base of an active volcano, yet we live in vulnerable places.
5) None of that eases the pain when it comes to human suffering, especially involving children. It is the most vexing reality of all. However, there will be stories of miracles and divine intervention. God didn’t stop the natural order from taking place, but He stepped in and helped many.
God acts during such calamities while not suspending the potential damage of such events.
6) He stands ready to hear our cry for deliverance. Even before and during such disasters as well as comfort the survivors. Also. God personally cares for humanity through His people. The people who survive will experience a continual outpouring of love and grace. We can also be comforted in the thought that God instantly brings children into His presence in Heaven where there is no more fear, pain, or abuse. They are safe for eternity now.
7) Without God, we have no hope against even greater calamities. God’s promises have kept our planet safe for billions of years, if not, we would have been taken out a long ago.
Imagine a white cue ball on a pool table where all the other balls are moving around, and the white ball never gets hit for 4 billion years!
May God grant us grace and wisdom to help and make a difference in people’s lives.
On another note, Ged was a real help. We are hoping he can come back from Jan-May to finish the school year. We hope to know if he’s returning ASAP. If not, we would love to consider someone else from the Philippines.
Praise God that Manny won!
I gave him Micah 7:8 a year ago. He has texted me twice since the fight.
Thank you for carrying the banner of the Evangelist. I would love to come back and do a national Evangelists conference.
You and I could co-host, and both speak and train them.
To folks who are having second thoughts about the goodness of God, may this serve as a resource, especially during times of extraordinary interruptions—acts of God.
So as we discover God’s kindness, may we be able to experience the reality of it—all the time!