Where was God? Thoughts on 9/11, Katrina, and Oklahoma City
“I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God I will gird you, though you have not known Me; that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.” – Isaiah 45:7
Where was God on April 19, 1995 when Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal building in downtown Oklahoma City, killing hundreds of innocent lives? God was actively present that day in the midst of all the tragedy. Where was God on September 11, 2001? He was there as the planes crashed into the World Trade Center. He was at the Pentagon, and also at Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Thousands of people lost their lives, and yet God was in the midst of the horrific events that unfolded on that fateful day. Where was God on August 29, 2005? He was there as Hurricane Katrina violently crashed into the New Orleans, Louisiana coastline detrimentally flooding the entire geographical area. Thousands of people lost their lives and yet once again, God was there in the midst of all the chaos and calamity.
If you believe that a kind and loving God would have nothing to do with these catastrophes, then you are suggesting that God is not the sovereign Controller and Sustainer of the universe. And, if He is not in control, who then is? Be careful about such thinking. If you follow that line of thought, it will take you down the deep dark path of theological liberalism.
In our passage above, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and made it clear that He “creates calamity.” The Holman Christian Standard says that He “creates disaster.” God not only was in the midst of the Oklahoma City bombing, September 11th, and Katrina, He had sovereign control over them. Just because something bad happens, does not mean that God is not in the midst of the event. Our God is good. But His goodness cannot be divorced from events that seem bad from our perspective. Why is this? It is because goodness of God is ever-present while bad events unfold. It is quite convenient for our sinful minds to paint a picture of a God that would not have anything to do with catastrophe. It is comfortable to conger up a God who only deals in positives. Yet how inaccurate and unbiblical such a description of God would be! He is God and God alone and there is no one like Him. He causes well-being and creates calamity!
Suggesting that God had nothing to do with the horrific events of September 11th and Katrina not only denies the sovereignty of God, but also denies the omnipresence of God. Some would say that these events occurred where they did and when they did because God was not present at that moment. They would suggest that God cannot be everywhere at the same time. But these events did not occur because there was a blip of momentary absence on God’s part. God is everywhere all the time (Jeremiah 23:24). Catastrophes and disasters cannot be explained away simply by blaming them on an “Absent-T” heavenly Father.
So how do we explain disasters such as the ones mentioned above in relation to God’s sovereignty and omnipresence? They must be viewed as events that God permitted. God permitted what He could have prevented. Nothing happens without God’s permission. A blade of grass does not move without the hand of God. A cloud does not budge one millimeter in the sky without God’s blessing. Thus everything in creation, even created man, is subject to God’s sovereignty.
So the next time a terrible catastrophe happens, don’t assume that our good God would have nothing to do with a bad event. That is just poor theology that does not align with Scripture. Remember, good and bad are simply subjective terms skewed by the viewpoint of man. The truth of the matter is this; God has everything to do with catastrophe, for He is the author of everything.
– Pastor Eric