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Was Katrina a Judgment from God?

by George Hutto

The question of God's involvement with the recent hurricane which devastated New Orleans may not be popular, but it is fair to ask. After all, the activities on Bourbon Street are not akin to Sunday School classes, and Mardi Gras is notorious for the kind of behavior that would evoke the wrath of God. (Colossians 3:5-6) Most people believe in God, and they know that natural catastrophes happen. Why
did God allow the Gulf to be hit so hard by Katrina? Did He send the hurricane? Did He not hear the prayers of those who would have not been disturbed by it? What saith the Scriptures?

The Bible shows that calamities occur among even the God-fearing without God's involvement. Jesus asked about the locals' thinking concerning the eighteen unfortunate souls upon whom the tower of
Siloam fell, "Do you suppose that they were worse sinners than the others who dwelt in Jerusalem?" He said, "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:1-5). Sin is not always the cause behind the tragedy that comes upon men, women, and children.

The book of Job centers on this very problem: why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? One consideration for believers is that the devil is certainly involved in some of the bad things
which come our way in this world (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-10). Evil people, as agents of the devil, wittingly or unwittingly, can inflict harm on others. We all have that capacity, don't we? Another consideration is
that even in the face of injustice God expects everyone to be faithful to Him. "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips" (Job 2:10).

There is such a thing as shear accident. "I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all" (Ecclessiastes 9:11).

As a matter of fact, free moral agency is best realized by those who live in a world where anything can happen. An evil man could possibly try to take over the whole world, as did Adolph Hitler. An evil group of men could try to disrupt our country by hijacking jet planes and flying them into the World Trade Center. Crazed and hateful organizations could possibly ignite an atomic bomb in a city of millions of people.

Living in such a world, where "no one is in charge," can be terrorizing, but if God gives such latitude of moral freedom to those who would do evil, look at the moral power that men and women have to do good! God has blessed America, not only with His providence and care, but mainly through His Word, which shines the light toward right (Psalm 119:105). The help, sweat, generosity, benevolence, prayers and concern for victims of Katrina show how good can overcome evil. The consideration on this point is the great moral responsibility we have to do His will. It is ours to do or to leave undone, and the consequences are eternal! (II Corinthians 5:10).

The fact that God in time past used the flood of Noah's day to punish an evil human race, the fact that He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of their outright wickedness, and the fact that He struck Ananias and Sapphira for their dishonesty (Acts 5:1-11) does not mean that He will punish every transgression in this world. He may punish modern-day sinners, but we would never know if He did for sure.

However, the things written in the Bible are for our learning (Romans 15:4). We know because of Noah's flood how God feels about sin. We know from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah how He feels about the specific sin of homosexuality (Genesis 19). And the immediate punishment of Ananias and Sapphira cues us in on His wrath for the dishonest.

"Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecclessiastes 8:11).