Popular evangelist and megachurch pastor Greg Laurie took to his personal blog on Saturday to ask whether or not the recent stretch of major hurricanes hitting the United States is one of God’s ways of getting Americans’ attention.
As Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida this past weekend and caused severe damage and record flooding in some parts of the state, Laurie, the senior pastor of the California-based Harvest Christian Fellowship, posed the rhetorical question: “Why is God allowing all of this to happen?”
Laurie’s blog post — titled “With Hurricanes and Threats, Is God Trying to Get Our Attention?” — comes while Irma has wrecked much of Florida and about two weeks after Hurricane Harvey became the first major hurricane to hit the United States since 2005, damaging hundreds of thousands of homes and killing over 60 people.
“We had Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma. Some have called the latest, ‘Irmageddon.’ Add to this, we have new threats almost every day from the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, to destroy us with nuclear weapons,” the 64-year-old Laurie, who has previously warned that the nuclear threat of North Korea could play into biblical end times prophecy, wrote.
“Why is God allowing all of this to happen?” Laurie asked. “Is He trying to get our attention?”
Laurie continued by explaining that asking questions like that are similar to asking questions like “Why is there suffering in the world?” or “What happens after we die?”
“These questions are not new to the 21st century or even the 20th or 19th centuries. In fact, these were questions people were effectively asking in the first century, during the time of Christ himself,” Laurie wrote. “In John’s gospel, chapter 9, we find a story of a blind man who was healed by Jesus. In addition to receiving his sight, he also became a believer. We’ve heard that seeing is believing. But in his case, believing was seeing, because he saw things he had never seen before — not just the faces of friends and family or the beauty of God’s creation.”
“When Jesus and his disciples encountered this man, the disciples raised this question: ‘Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ (verse 2 NIV),” Laurie wrote. “That brings us to another often-asked question: ‘Why does God allow suffering?’ This is basically what the disciples were asking. We can take that further and ask why there are babies born with disabilities, why there is war, why there are terrorism, hurricanes and natural tragedies?”
Laurie suggested that one of the top reasons why people become atheist is because something traumatic has happened to them at some point in their lives.
“Thus, they had to find a belief system, or lack thereof, that would help them deal with the pain they’ve had to face,” Laurie wrote. “In the classic statement of this problem, either God is all-powerful, but he is not all-good and therefore doesn’t stop evil; or, He is all-good but is not all-powerful, and therefore He can’t stop evil.”
According to Laurie, the “general tendency is to blame God for all the evil and suffering in the world” and “to essentially pass all the responsibility to Him.”
“When people do this, there is nothing rational about it. They’re upset, so they’re placing the blame on God,” the pastor stressed.
However, Laurie asserted that “all suffering is a result of sin.” He assured that statement did not mean that he believes children are born with a disability because they “did something too bad to deserve it.”
“Suffering, aging, and death are all a result of sin. It affects all of us because of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden,” Laurie stated. “It was never God’s plan for us to get sick. It was never God’s plan for us to get old. Because of the curse of sin, it affects me. It affects you.”