Harvey has done his damage, and now Irma approaches. In the wake of such storms we often hear people say, “God is in control.”
Theologians may want to nuance this phrase, but for everyday folks it means, “God is in control of everything, including the weather.” In essence, since God is in control, God caused these storms, the destruction.
God created a perfect world and, in the wake of our messing it up, God has “purposed,” as Scripture says, for his creation to be redeemed. Jesus Christ has made possible that final redemption, yet we are still in the midst of this fallen, messed up world seeking to serve God in His redemptive purposes.
God only caused Harvey in the sense that God created this amazing world, with physical qualities that are generally measurable, dependable, and consistent, which makes science possible. Weather is part of that world, but it is very, very complex because of so many interacting variables and it can seem chaotic and inconsistent.
But the weather we experience today is not just the result of God’s initial creative energy. God made humans as caretakers of His world, with immense freedom to act within that world. With that freedom, we do not always choose well.
Human’s are in an important and powerful role in creation. This world is no longer exactly like God planned it because sinful humanity has done its damage to God’s creation in multiple ways. Our sin does not only harm ourselves and the people around us; our sin harms the broader creation. And when that happens things can get really wild and more difficult to predict and deal with -- like Harvey and Irma.
God is not like a symphony conductor waving His wand before the orchestra of creation, calling for a steady nurturing rain here, a debilitating snow storm there, a life-taking drought here, and a Harvey or Irma there. No. In our sin, we have taken the baton from God’s creative hand and tried to compose our own works.
God is more like a composer. He wrote a beautiful score, with an overarching prelude, a dramatic theme, and an inspiring conclusion. Now, it must be interpreted by the orchestra of humanity stretched through time. And God, the composer, “walks” among the musicians instructing and encouraging them in playing the divine symphony.
With the Bible, it is as if we have a reproduction of the original score, but time and misuse have made parts of it hard to understand and interpret. Still, despite this, we can see enough of God’s intention that we can see where He is going with it. We see the beauty, the life-giving quality, the eventually ending even when we can’t make sense of every note. And God’s Spirit is within us helping to see the score more clearly.
In other words, in the Bible, we have enough of the score to join God in performing His symphony instead of trying to write our own.
God did not cause Harvey and Irma. God does not cause every bad thing and good thing that happens as a result of these storms.
Harvey and Irma happen in this fallen world, and God is with us to help us deal with them. And we are here to help others deal with them.
There are biblical verses that imply God controls all things, but here are a few of the many verses that show the truth of God's presence with us.
Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Psalm 46:1 (NKJV)
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
These verses show that God is active and involved in our lives, providing for are genuine needs, but they do not say God is controlling everything. In fact, they seem to be saying the opposite. They are saying that in the midst of this sin-caused chaos, God is with us.
That is the phrase that expresses our hope in Christ -- God is with us.
God did not cause or want the destruction wreaked by Harvey and Irma, but God is there with us in the midst of every storm.