That was a startling question asked recently on a national news broadcast.
A reporter noted this year's hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and fires, and raised the question, Are these natural disasters - these "acts of God," as they are sometimes known - evidence of God's anger?
My immediate response was, "Of course not!" Yet I took a moment to explore why I felt so strongly.
My answer was based on what I've learned about God - what God is like, how God treats His creation. The Bible contains chapter upon chapter that reveal God's nature. As you read the Bible through, you see that it records humanity's gradual discovery of God.
At first, people had to get comfortable with the idea that there is just one God.
For thousands of years, Greek, Roman, and Egyptian cultures had portrayed the universe governed by a multitude of gods. These gods were seen as capricious deities who rewarded and often punished the people they governed. This carried forward in the Bible to how people perceived the one God, whom Abraham called Lord, the everlasting God. Bad weather, earthquakes, and fires were sometimes seen as means of divine punishment.
As time went on, people began to discover that God was in no way a distant, angry deity. Jesus' record and example give a much clearer view of God's good and loving nature. Instead of withholding and punishing, Jesus said of God, "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).
The Bible records a time when Jesus was with his disciples in a boat on the sea. A great storm came up. What was Jesus' response? "He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm" (Mark 4:39).
If a violent storm were God's punishment, Jesus would have been defying God's will by wanting to stop it. If God had actually sent the storm in anger, Jesus, so close to God, would have welcomed the rebuke and sentence. But that's not what happened. Through the power of God, "the wind ceased, and there was a great calm."
Just because people have been in a storm or fire doesn't mean God doesn't love them. As incredibly challenging as fires, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes are, they can also be opportunities to witness, not the anger of the Lord, but the love of God.
The woman who founded this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, gave this encouraging statement: "My faith in God and in His followers rests in the fact that He is infinite good, and that He gives His followers opportunity to use their hidden virtues, to put into practice the power which lies concealed in the calm and which storms awaken to vigor and to victory" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 204).
I love the fact that God is infinite good. God has nothing to offer His creation but goodness and love. It is not through anger, but love, that we are corrected and purified. No person, no event, no storm, fire, or earthquake can separate us from God at any time.
Toward the end of the Bible, the love of God - and the oneness of God and creation - is clear. The Apostle Paul wrote, "I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God" (Rom. 8:38, 39). We are God's, divine Love's, cherished idea and expression.
The status of divine Love includes solidity, wholeness, and permanence. "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it" (Song. 8:7). To know this, even just a little, is effective prayer. It brings the power of God to bear on your thought, which governs life and experience. Let this be a time in which we bask, not in anger and superstition, but in the love of God.