Asking the harder question
When natural disasters like hurricane Katrina strike, the tendency is to ask, “How could God let this happen?” Trying to reconcile the existence of an all-loving, all-powerful God with a destructive and deadly event of this magnitude is an understandable response. After the tsunami struck in December 2004 those with an atheistic bent took the opportunity to try to disprove the existence of God, claiming no reconciliation possible. The question was even bandied about on this website.
But, while the question “How could God let this happen” may be the first question that pops to mind, it is, perhaps, not the most appropriate question. Nor is it the hardest.
The more appropriate question is this: Does God have some obligation to us for our protection against such things? If so what is it?
The simple answer is no. God has no obligation to spare a race of people who are His enemies and hate Him. The Bible is clear on this point, we are all guilty before God and deserve justice. Every moment that God allows us to walk and breathe and live is nothing more than His unbelievable grace toward us. God is justified in destroying any city anytime, anywhere. He was justified with Sodom. He is justified now.
That’s not to say New Orleans did anything especially egregious to deserve this more than any other city that has not suffered a similar fate, but, according to Scripture, He would be completely justified in destroying earth entirely if He decided to. But this line of reasoning assumes God caused the hurricane in the first place and that may be an erroneous notion.
Romans tells us all of creation groans under the weight of sin. Ours is a world cursed. Sin has corrupted our entire world and that includes nature. Natural disasters are a direct result of man introducing sin into the world. So, when things like last year's tsunami or this year's hurricane happen it is nothing more than a sinful race of people reaping the whirlwind.
Rather than trying to fix God with the blame our response should be what our response before a Holy God should always be: “Father we know we deserve justice but we humbly ask for your grace.”
God is at liberty to exercise either option and is completely justified whichever option He chooses.
Of course, the people of the Gulf coast could not care less about these kinds of questions right now. They need help. There will be plenty of time later to answer critics who want to blame God. Right now, in Jesus' name, we need to help those who are hurting. If you would like to make contributions to the relief effort you can click here or here for details.