God is not the author of natural disasters, and He is not a remote spectator—rather, He is a God of love who is present with us in our suffering.
This past week we watched in horrified disbelief as the first news reports of Japan’s earthquake and resulting tsunami flashed across our screens.
As New Zealanders, my family is still reeling from news of the devastating Christchurch earthquake.
Some of the questions I muse over as I write today are:
- Why are there natural disasters?
- Where is God in the pain?
- Should we look for prophetic meaning in the earthquakes and natural events?
- Do earthquakes prove that we are in the end times?
Creation in Crisis
‘How could God allow natural disasters? Couldn’t He intervene and prevent the pain?’ My reflections take me back to the very beginning: the book of Genesis.
God created the earth to be perfectly in balance and to sustain life. The Fall that brought separation between humanity and God also affected creation—the earth itself. (Gen 1-2, 3:17)
Genesis reminds me that the imbalance in creation that causes natural disasters was not God’s plan, but the tragic outcome of sin.
In Romans 8, Paul tells me that creation is groaning in bondage, waiting for a future time when it will be set free. The earth is running a course that is parallel—and intrinsically connected to—the salvation of its people.
Turning to the last book in the Bible, I read that God’s plan for restoration climaxes in a new heaven and a new earth, where ‘There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ (Rev 21:1-4)
The reason for delay in the culmination of God’s plan is His mercy—the Father desires to give as many people as possible the opportunity to hear the Good News. (2 Peter 3:9)
I don’t have answers as to why disasters happen.  But I do believe that the Bible reveals:
- God is not the author of natural disasters, and He is not a remote spectator—rather, He is a God of love who is present with us in our suffering.
- Having participated in our suffering through Jesus’ death on the cross, He is at work to restore all things—including the earth we live in—to His original purpose.
Seeking Prophetic Meaning In Disasters
Should we look to see if there is any prophetic meaning in the earthquakes and other events that are taking place?
Two perspectives I have come across recently are:
- Natural disasters are the judgment of God on nations that refuse to repent of sin and
- Natural disasters are earthly signs of changes that are taking place in the spiritual realm.
Before embracing these, or any other viewpoints, we should ask, ‘What message are we sending out to those who are suffering?’
As a prophetic community, we need to view all insight through the lens of God’s love and mercy. All prophecy must be tested against the message of the Gospel. 
We must take the stance of Jesus, who said,
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17)
I believe that the most important prophetic insight to do with current events is that of Jesus’ own prophecy.
Are we in the End Times?
In Matthew 24, Jesus Himself prophesies, ‘There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.’ (Matt 24:7-8) 
According to Jesus, an increasing number of earthquakes and natural disasters is one sign of the end times. As He continues His discourse, we learn that there are even more tragedies and evil to befall us.
In this catalogue of darkness, Jesus shines a beacon of light:
‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.’ (Matt 24:14)
We cannot know for sure whether or not we are in the end times. (Acts 1:7)
One thing, however, is of primary importance to me:
Regardless of the Biblical era we live in, for our generation, it is the end of time.
This generation—alive on the earth right now—is never going to have another opportunity to learn about the love of God expressed through His Son Jesus.
We have had recent reminders of our vulnerability and our mortality.
Our consuming passion should be that of Jesus. Our vision should be that which the prophet Zephaniah spoke of:
‘The nations on every shore will worship him, every one in its own land.’ Zeph 2:11
The Banquet is Ready
Jesus told a parable about a man who prepared a great banquet. (Luke 14:16-24)
When the time of the banquet arrived, the man sent out his servants to those who had been invited. However many made excuses, saying they could not attend.
He sent out his servants again, this time urging,
‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ (Luke 14:21)
Finally, the servants returned, saying, ‘There is still room.’ The master sent out his servant one last time saying,
‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.’ Luke 14:23
Let’s pray earnestly for those who are suffering.
And let’s be a church on fire with an urgency to share the Gospel while we can, wherever we can, to reach whomever we can.
Because for this generation—time is running out.
 Many people grapple with the question, ‘Why does God allow suffering?’ If you know of some helpful resources on this topic, I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below this post. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.
 I urge Christians to weigh up what prophetic ministries are saying carefully before embracing and repeating their viewpoints. See my posts:
 Paul further explains the birth pains of creation in Romans 8:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Rom 8:22-24
© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog http://propheticpeople.com/
Now on team with David McCracken Ministries