Since the book of Job (and before) people have been asking the ‘why’ question when some disaster strikes.
More recently we’ve been asking why did the typhoon happen a few years back and kill so many? Why did Katrina take so many lives? Why did Haiti suffer the worst earthquake in over 200 years?
Answers range from the absurd to the bizarre to the ridiculous. Atheists for their part love to blame a God they assert they don’t believe in (if there’s a God he isn’t good; and if he’s good, he isn’t God). The lunatic fringe of Christianity always attempts to discern the mysterious and providential reasons that must be operative in the mind of God – and they have the hubris to pretend to know that mysterious and providential purpose.
In fact, however, there is an answer to the question of why. We just don’t know what it is.
So, rather than expending energy, effort, time, and resources in attempting to explain the ‘why’ of such tragedies our time should be spent in exploring ways to help those whose lives are devastated by the natural disasters God allows and permits.
The proper question to ask at times like these, then, isn’t why but what. That was the one question Job’s friends never asked. They never said to him, ‘what can we do to help- let us’. Instead they sat there and attempted explanation. ‘Well Job, it’s clear you’re a bigger sinner than we thought or God wouldn’t be punishing you… etc.’ So at the conclusion of the book God himself says Job’s friends are on the wrong track and if Job prays for them, he (God) won’t punish them.
In fact, the ‘why’ question is always an evasion of personal responsibility in the face of human need. Why is none of our business else God would disclose the answer. What, on the other hand, is completely our business, as Matthew 25 makes painfully clear.
Years ago in Seminary during a discussion of this very issue someone in class exclaimed ‘when disaster happens, why doesn’t God do something???’ No one said anything for a minute and then it occurred to me that there was an answer to this query- ‘God has done something. You.’
Let him who has ears to hear, hear…