It happens every time a major natural disaster strikes, and it doesn’t matter if it is in Japan, Alabama, Haiti or New Orleans. Pontificating preachers, televangelists, and their minions begin pointing fingers, blaming the victims, and speaking of God’s raging vengeance. Even insurance companies get in on the fault-finding, referring to otherwise inexplicable disasters as “acts of God.”
Acts of God? What about the crashing of tectonic plates, the inherent danger of living on a hurricane-prone coastline, and the tornadic collision of cold fronts with warm air over the Great Plains and Midwestern United States? These are native conditions of our planet, not the fickle trigger finger of an angry God.
I’m not saying that God isn’t “in charge,” but I am saying that we don’t always understand what that means, and we have no business whatsoever sitting in judgment over those who now face unfathomable suffering.
I simply cannot accept the “act of God” explanation for so much misery.
As a Christian, I believe that the greatest divine revelation is the appearance of Christ, who showed us in the flesh what God is really like. Sent from God on a mission of grace, he now sends his followers to do the same. “As the Father sent me,” Jesus said, “I am sending you.”
I can’t hear those words, or witness human suffering, without thinking of my friend Walt DeNero, former Director of the University of Georgia’s Fanning Leadership Center.
He used to tell a story every time he gave a lecture, a story about two log-sitting turtles, discussing world events. One turtle said, “I wonder why God allows so much suffering in the world? Sometimes I’d like to ask him ‘why’ when he could do something about it.” The other turtle said, “Well, why don’t you ask God that question?” And the first one responds, “No. I am afraid God might ask me the same thing.”
Now is the time to give, help, love, and become the hands, feet, heart, and compassion of God to those who hurt—not sit in judgment. Now is the time to redefine “act of God,” not as a cataclysmic disaster of the divine kind, but as a deed of love and grace toward those who need it most.
Ronnie McBrayer is the author of “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus.” He writes and speaks about life, faith, and Christ-centered spirituality. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net