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November 11, 2012

Question:  “Where is God during a time of natural disaster?”

Fully satisfying answers to such a complex question are difficult to find, but let me offer some tentative ideas. Some climate scientists have concluded that global warming and the consequent catastrophic imbalances in our weather patterns are man-made. But it would be fitting to ask a follow-up question: where is man during a time of natural disaster?  If a hillside is clear-cut and a monster mudslide engulfs the village that lies at the foot of the hill, who is to blame? If a man builds a house along the San Andrea’s fault, who is to blame? Coastlines are particularly vulnerable today. Are governments adequately prepared for natural disasters?

Why don’t we feed other humans when they suffer and die from hunger and drought while we waste our food? This is not God’s doing but man’s selfishness and complacency.  In both biblical theology and in Hinduism, God rewarded and punished mankind through acts of nature. Remember the plagues put on Pharaoh’s house? Are these natural disasters our plagues?

Few places on earth today are entirely safe. Floods, tsunamis, earthquakes and droughts happen. Even when we take the best of precautions, human beings are always exposed to sickness, accidents, disasters and eventual death. This does not mean that we should be fearful or pessimistic. On the contrary, we have an abundance of blessings to render us joyful throughout our entire lives. To be happy in time of trouble is a sign of nobility.

One remedy to any gloomy scenario is to follow the ancient precept to trust in God, identified in the Bahá’í writings as “the source of all good.” Experience teaches us that human affairs are unstable and unpredictable, yet God remains forever the solid foundation of the universe. It is wisdom to trust Him. We trust that whatever happens to us, if we join our trust to the love of God, He will never withhold His blessings and mercy. We trust Him in knowing that although the body must eventually die, the soul is eternal. We trust that our faith in Him will assure our eternal happiness whatever our earthly fate may be.   
-  Jack McLean

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