If God cares so much, then why earthquakes?

Why would God create shifting tectonic plates when they’re so dangerous? They cause massive tsunamis that drown people. They knock buildings down and bury people. Children are left without parents. Badly injured people never recover.

And God wasn’t aware that all this might happen?

He had to be. He knew about the explosive energy released when tectonic plates shift. He watched silly humans build cities on fault lines, erect buildings that would easily topple when the earth shakes, causing lots of people to die, and he allows these things to happen too. But why, if he truly cares for us?

Well, for a start, he did tell us that death and disasters are only temporary. One day there will be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away,” Revelation 21:4, and he’s going to make “everything new” (verse 5).

What we’re experiencing now, therefore, is an “OLD order,” in which God “subjected” the creation to futility (Romans 8:20). It’s futile because everything in this world dies. Every plan and dream we have as humans dies when we die. Even the universe is dying. This old order, therefore, has but one purpose: to make the awfulness of death real.

But when God warned Adam and Eve about death they didn’t take it seriously at all. Why not? Because the serpent deceived them into thinking death was a lie, it wouldn’t happen, and it was nothing to be afraid of. And humans ever since have treated death just as lightly, demonstrated clearly in how frivolous and stupid we are building cities in well-known quake zones.

But then a terrible earthquake happens, and suddenly death and loss of life are real and horrible. Now we take death seriously. Now we wake up to how futile this old order is, where no one is safe from death. Now we wish for a world where death and terrible suffering don’t exist, and fortunately for us that’s God’s wish too, because he made sure through Jesus’ death that a death-free world would exist one day.

In Jesus’ death we see that God takes death very seriously, but the problem has always been, from Adam and Eve on, to get US to take death seriously too. Death is our worst enemy but we treat it so casually, until, that is, it stares us in the face in all its horror and tragedy in a terrible earthquake. But for now, in this old order, that’s what it takes to wake us up to the awfulness of death, in the hope that we too come to hate death as much as God does.

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