Acts of God?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Insurance companies sometimes term disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, floods, and tornadoes "acts of God." Can God cause destruction and death?

The Bible assures readers that God made all. He is the creator of everything that has reality. Why would He then turn around and destroy what He creates? The only possible reason for destroying one's work would be because one is unhappy with it. But the Bible also assures us of God's satisfaction with His work. Genesis says plainly, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (1:31). God loved what He made.

One of the best assurances there is of God's love for us is found in the teaching of Christ Jesus. Jesus' own words confirm that the mission God gave him was never one involving destruction. He said, "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil" (Matthew 5:17).

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"Well," you may be thinking, "that's all fine and good, but look at the destruction that has occurred!" Elijah the prophet saw the answer to this. After witnessing a tremendous wind, an earthquake, and a fire, he saw that God was not in these. He then heard God in "a still small voice" (see I Kings 19:11, 12). God's power was seen not in wind and fury, but in quiet and stillness.

The next step in this reasoning may seem to be a hard one; it is to see that nothing real is ever destroyed. Looking at flooding, broken or charred buildings, uprooted trees, and especially at death, we don't find this to be true. But in the face of all this, a new sense of reality is to be found that is solid and eternal.

What is real? What is lasting? Nothing material lasts forever. The goodness of God is seen in nature's beauty, and as a quality of God beauty is permanent, although material mountains and trees are not. The loveliness of affection, the might of intelligence, the gentleness and goodness of God, are expressed symbolically-by a magnificent sunset, a beautiful home, the glory of cliffs and mountains. Although the material things don't endure, the spiritual qualities they represent can never be taken away.

At one time it seemed to me as though everything had been taken from me. A drought resulted in the failure of our landscaping business. Most of what my husband and I owned was repossessed, and we were without a home and buried under a mountain of debt and poverty. For a time I lost my self-respect and my trust in God. There were some very gloomy days.

But one morning, as I was driving back from my night job to the place where we were staying, the most beautiful sunrise began to appear. Although it may seem impossible that the simple beauty of a sunrise could wipe out the loss and grief of a disaster, I felt that this sunrise was evidence of God's presence and power. My thinking underwent a radical change in those moments. I began to see that the goodness in my life was unchanged because it was of God. It was constant and sure. This was a goodness that could never be repossessed or taken away. I began to feel God's love for me, evidenced in this sunrise, in the gentle hills, in the flowers, trees, and skies. It was more real than any loss or destruction.

Although there were two years during which we were homeless, God's care continued to be apparent. Food and clothing were provided for us in some very surprising ways. We were able to get on our feet again financially.

The Bible explains that it is possible to find an existence that is unshaken by material elements and changes. Of this the woman who discovered Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: "Thus founded upon the rock of Christ, when storm and tempest beat against this sure foundation, you, safely sheltered in the strong tower of hope, faith, and Love, are God's nestlings . . . . Into His haven of Soul there enters no element of earth to cast out angels, to silence the right intuition which guides you safely home" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 152).

I realized that the truth the Bible presents is solid reality. It is a firm foundation, or rock, that establishes us safely in God's care. God is available to comfort, instruct, and inspire you and me-to show us that nothing can be lost.

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