While the people in Texas are still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma is approaching Florida and has already damaged some Caribbean Islands. I have already began to hear stories of pastors anointing the hurricanes as “God’s Wraith” for some sin or another. I will not even justify these pastors or these statements by naming them here. We saw this Katrina, , after the earthquake in Haiti, after almost every natural disaster.
As a pastor, as a Christian, I want to say that I do not agree with these statements. In fact, they outrage me! People who subscribe to this type of theology point to the cities that God destroyed in the Bible, the most famous being Sodom and Gomorrah. It is true; Genesis 18 tells us that God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because the people there were so wicked. However, once God tells Abraham about this Abraham pleads for the people. God says that the city will be spared if Abraham can find five righteous people living in the city. God did not want to harm the innocent along with the wicked.
Then there is the story of Nineveh, from the book of Jonah. Jonah was sent to Nineveh to announce that they were going to be destroyed because they were so wicked. Once the people of Nineveh hear this, they repented and fasted and prayed. God, having seen this, relented and Nineveh was not destroyed. Again, God would not destroy the innocent.
To attribute the natural phenomena to the wraith of God is to presume to know the mind of God, something that we, as humans, are incapable of. In John 9, the disciples saw a blind man and asked Jesus if his father’s sin made him blind or his own. Jesus answered neither.
These statements also are counter to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The good news of Christ is a message of love, not one of hate or judgment. John 3:16 says “”For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” God loved the world and Christ was the embodiment of love.
In the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus says to the disciples, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Again, in the fifteenth chapter, he says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
When people are hurting and suffering, as Christians we are not called to judge or condemn. We are called to be there as a shoulder to cry on, to lend aid, to help in whatever way is needed, and to love just as God loves us.
1 John 3:18: “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”