At least seven people have died in floods plaguing Louisiana. More rain is forecast later in the week. So far, more than 20,000 people have been evacuated from flooded areas, a number that is expected to rise as rain falls on saturated ground. More than 12,000 people remain in shelters this morning. Even Governor John Bel Edwards had to be evacuated as chest-high waters filled the basement of the Governor’s Mansion and cut off electricity.
Terrorism, murder, and other crimes tend to dominate the news, but they contribute to a small percentage of deaths in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 2,596,993 people in the US died in 2013. That comes to 7,115 deaths per day, 296 per hour, five every minute. Of all these deaths, 92.5 percent were of natural causes, meaning that nearly 2.4 million people died in the US because we live in broken bodies in a broken world.
How is faith relevant to the disasters of life?
If God is truly all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful, why doesn’t he prevent such suffering? He protected the people of Israel from the plagues of Egypt and rescued Paul from a shipwreck—why doesn’t he rescue more people in Louisiana’s floods?
Consider three facts.
One: God can and often does intervene in natural circumstances. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43–44), kept a storm from capsizing his disciples’ boat (Matthew 8:23–27), and healed multitudes of sick people (Mark 1:32–34). We should pray boldly and consistently for God’s protection and intervention, knowing that anything our Father has ever done, he can still do.
Two: If God prevented all natural disease and disaster, we would live forever in our fallen bodies. Abraham would be 4,000 years old; Paul would be 2,000 years old. We would not step from our diseased bodies into God’s perfect paradise. In our fallen world (Romans 8:22), God uses natural death to bring about supernatural life.
Three: What God does not prevent, he redeems. Wonderful stories are emerging of people helping each other as they face rising waters in Louisiana. You can assist flood victims through Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and numerous other organizations. We will see future good from present suffering and eternal reward for those who are faithful in hard times. As Paul noted, “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
No matter what happens to us, here is what has happened in us: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Our Father assures us, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). As a result, he promises, “I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish” (v. 25).
So God invites us to “seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (1 Chronicles 16:11). The harder it is to trust God, the more we need him.
Note: My latest booklet, Half-full or Hopeful? Five reasons for optimism in a pessimistic day, is available on our website. I hope you’ll read it and be encouraged by the good news of God at work in our world today.