The God of Christianity is not a frivolous God. He is not given to caprice or arbitrary acts of violence. His actions are not irrational expressions or whims. We do not know why at a given place or a given time natural catastrophes take place. Easy equations of guilt and disaster are ruled out by statements in the book of Job and the ninth chapter of John’s gospel. When inexplicable disasters occur, we must say with Luther, “Let God be God.”
When Job cried out, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21b), he was not trying to sound pious or give superficial praise to God. He was biting his lip and gripping his stomach as he sought to remain faithful to God in the midst of unmitigated anguish. But Job knew who God was and cursed Him not.
Whatever else this world is, it is fallen. Suffering is inseparably related to sin. That is not to say that all suffering is a direct result of sin or that there is a measurable ratio between an individual’s suffering and his sin (Job and John 9 militate against such thinking). However, suffering belongs to the complex of sin. As long as this world suffers from the violence of men, it returns such violence in kind. Scripture often personifies nature as being angry with its human master and exploiter. Instead of dressing, keeping, and replenishing the earth, we exploit it and pollute it.
The world is not yet redeemed. We look for a new heaven and a new earth. We yearn for a land without tempest, flood, or earthquake. Such yearning provides a hope that is an anchor for the soul.
Coram deo: Living before the face of God
Is your soul anchored to the biblical hope of the future, the new heaven and earth, where there will be no more sin and suffering?