There is always a lot of noise in the Christian camp when disasters strike the world we live in and we are witnessing that again. There are those who want to absolve God of any blame and attribute all evil to Satan. There are those who blame God and reject Him because of it. Others confess that God is sovereign over all things and look for the reason in God's judgement on a sinful world and so on. What does the Bible teach about this?
God is sovereign over all and so any evil that happens happens at least with His permission. Nothing that happens is outside of His control (Deut 32:39; Is 45:7; Am 3:6). We cannot avoid confessing that any disaster comes because God wills it.
He does not always work directly. We can see that He can bring disaster by means of the malevolence of Satan. We see Satan being used in a test of Job in Job 1 & 2. We see God using Satan to judge His people in 1 Chr 21:1; cf 2 Sam 24:1, whether that is by express permission, or simply that God uses Satan's evil desire to destroy God's works to attain His own goals is not always clear, but that Satan is an instrument in God's hands is clear. He too cannot escape God's control.
The Lord also uses nations without them understanding that they are serving Him. Assyria was the rod of His anger to judge the nations including His own disobedient people (Is 10:5,15). He used the Babylonians to judge the world and His people in their sin (Hab 1:5,6). Cyrus, the Persian king, is the means God chooses to restore His people (Is 44:28-45:7), but afterwards He also judged those He used to execute His judgement for they acted with evil intent and in pride (Is 10:15; Hab 2:5-30; Zech 1:15,21). We can see that God can use evil beings and people to achieve His righteous goals.
However, there are also times that God acts more directly. He judged the world by the flood in which all mankind except eight died. He scattered the nations at Babel. He judged Sodom and Gomorrah by fire from heaven in which all died except Lot and his two daughters. He sends His four deadly judgements into the earth when sin increases (Eze 14:21). He can withhold sun and rain so that harvests suffer or insects so that it is all eaten. He can cause earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, fires and storms. We cannot attribute these to anything or anyone else than God.
Why does God send such disasters? We cannot always tell. If they strike an individual there can be all sorts of reasons. Job was a righteous man and yet lost everything He had, but when he wanted to argue with God that he was being unjustly treated God came to him in a whirlwind to debate the case. Job ended up repenting from his arrogance. He realised he was out of his league. What had happened to him was not punishment, but a test and how that fitted into the larger picture he could not understand. For that he would have had to be God.
However, often we can tell why judgement comes. When people sin with increasing boldness and arrogance God steps in to humble them and to call them to repentance. At a certain time God says, now it is enough (Is 26; Rev 18:5). The western world has been heading in that direction for many years now thinking and teaching that mankind can themselves determine what is moral and immoral. We have raped the world. We have idolised nature. We have destroyed the sanctity of marriage and perverted sexuality. We have legalised the murder of unborn children. We have now begun to legalise euthanasia as if we are owners of our lives. Where will we stop? Who knows? There is no end in sight to our evil. Is it strange then that God who created us judges us with things like Covid 19? It has brought our economy to its knees and our lives to a standstill. And this is only the beginning. It will get much worse yet unless we repent.
What is our problem? We have forgotten God and rejected Him. We have come up with all sorts of scientific myths by which we can explain away any involvement of God in creation or any necessity for God at all. We do not give God thanks for our food and drink, our clothing and all the good He has given us. We live for ourselves and ignore God completely and the day of His judgement does not even enter into mind.
The problem is that does not get rid of God. He is still there, holy, living, active and almighty. He claims creation as His own and He rules it through Jesus Christ, the Lord. Our rebellion against Him is the height of folly as puny mankind cannot stand against the wrath of God. Our arrogance is amazing and will be totally destroyed when He rises to judge.
The only way forward is to repent and return to God, to stop being arrogant and to act according to His ways again. Then His blessings will return. Then nature won't be turned against us. Then peace will ensue. Are we willing to humble ourselves and do that? As a society I don't think so, not until the conclusion becomes inescapable that God has turned against us. May the day of that realisation come soon so that our suffering may come to an end quickly and His blessings may return, and if that does not happen, may our Lord return soon to put an end to all unrighteousness. Amen.