One of the great conundrums of life which places a huge question mark against faith is the phenomenon of natural disasters. Earthquakes, hurricanes and tidal waves seem to be so indiscriminate in their occurrence, causing so much tragedy and human suffering.
Surely a loving, merciful God would not allow such suffering of his people?
With the many thousands of people who die and suffer from such events surely not all these are sinful enough to warrant the consequences of such unforeseen catastrophes?
Questions like these have exercised the minds of many intellectuals over the centuries and undoubtedly their answers have fallen at both ends of the spectrum, proving or disproving the existence of God.
It would be so easy to use natural disasters as indisputable evidence as to the fact that there is no God. A God who truly cares about his creation would not allow for such cataclysms, would not oversee the sufferings from destruction and famine. This surely is not the work of a loving, merciful Father?
Yet there are many scientists, particularly geologists who see the world as a work in progress. The crust of the earth is a movable, floating surface. Plate tectonics proves that there is movement of the different areas of this crust, and friction develops as the plates either rub against each other or slide one under the other, eventually releasing the energy in the form of earthquakes. Constant transference of energy from one part of the globe to another comes in the form of wind, with hurricanes and tornados at the extremities of this process. The conclusion of said scientists is that these are the inevitable changes occurring in the world as Mother Nature heads towards her ultimate creation.
The Tsunami of Boxing Day 2004 would surely be another nail in the coffin of faith?
With many thousands dead in the coastal areas of India, Thailand and Malaysia one would expect the faith of the surviving people to be destroyed.
On the contrary.
Despite the loss of loved ones, despite the loss of homes and property and despite the tremendous suffering after such an awesome display of destructive power, the faith of the survivors was, and still is, remarkably strong. Many saw this as a challenge set by God to test their abilities, to prove the strength of their faith. Others saw it as punishment for the misdemeanors of themselves or their people proving that they still believed in God their creator.
The compassion showed by so many people in the aftermath of this destruction was seen as a demonstration of God's love with mercy missions coming from all over the globe, desperate to offer aid in whatever capacity they could provide.
We could be forgiven for thinking that negativity would prevail. But as time wore on people became more positive as communities started to rebuild; phoenixes from the ashes. Almost unbelievably it was the religious centres that seemed to stand steadfast against the onslaught of water and today remain the focal point as these villages overcome disaster.
The problem that exists when trying to reason as to why God allows natural disasters to occur is that the arguments are set by the human mind. Taking into account the greatest of minds in the scientific, political and theological fields, the human mind is still limited. The intellect can only go so far. In searching for the answers to the universe we always come up with more questions. We are trying to drain the oceans using a spoon. If computers could understand their creator then the world would surely be in trouble. Likewise it is impossible to understand the intelligence of our creator.
It is not hard for any of us to see back through our lives, that when we believe in God he is there for us. And even when times appeared hard, when we could so easily have questioned our faith, God saw us through the darkness until the light shone again. There is a reason for the pain and suffering that we all experience at different poin! ts in ou r lives; they are just not always apparent at the time. Don't try to reason it because the human mind has frailties, it is limited in comparison to the truth that is God. Just know that God is there and have absolute faith that he will guide us through to the good times.
How fantastic is that?