Were natural disasters in God’s original plan?

The Bible is sketchy on how our planet formed and whether natural disasters like earthquakes, floods and hurricanes were part of the original plan, or not. Disasters certainly became part of our history because the earth was reduced to a dark mass of water, Genesis 1:2, and our pockmarked moon and cratered earth are visible witness to something dramatic happening.

But the beginning of our human history was very different, because everything was “good,” the Bible says. Adam and Eve lived in a paradise setting. All they had to do was eat, sleep, tend to the garden and reproduce. There was no fear, no need to head for cover and no hint of danger. Even the animals were friendly.

But things changed dramatically when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. They were kicked out of their paradise setting and into a world of weeds and hard grind, Genesis 3:17-19. Their world was a much nastier place to live in.

Had this world always existed outside Eden, though, or did God now make it that way in response to human rebellion? Had the world always had hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanoes, or did they only begin after Adam and Eve were thrown out of Eden?

Either way, Adam and Eve found themselves in a world that God had deliberately made “futile” and “subject to decay,” Romans 8:20-21. And whether God made it that way from the beginning, or only in response to Adam and Eve’s disobedience, the question that begs answering is “Why?” Why would God create a world of futility, hard grind, obsolescence and natural disasters? What useful purpose do they serve?

A very obvious purpose, I would think, because at the heart and core of everything bad happening on this earth is pride – first the devil’s pride, and then ours. What wrecked everything “good” in Adam and Eve’s lives, for instance, was thinking they could do without God. They loved the serpent’s idea that they were invincible and masters of their destiny. Well, there’s nothing like a natural disaster to jolt us out of that illusion. We are, in fact, extremely vulnerable. One massive meteor strike or prolonged volcanic eruption and we’ve had it.

And in the meantime we have no control whatsoever over earthquakes and hurricanes. At what point, then, do we recognize God made things this way on purpose for our sakes, to wake us up to why he created us in the first place? Which is? To live in the freedom of having him take care of us, Romans 8:20-21. Because when we get to that point, natural disasters end, Revelation 21:4. We won’t need them anymore.


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