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Sandy, Sovereignty and Where God Is During Disasters

It has been deemed the most destructive storm, hitting the most densely populated areas of our country, in decades. At the time of this writing, more than 50 deaths have been reported. Damage is estimated to be in the $20 billion range. More than 8 million have been without power in 17 states.

So where was God?

Some would say this proves there isn’t a God, or at least a loving, benevolent God. If there was, He would have intervened. So either He wouldn’t (a bad God) or He ­couldn’t (a weak God).

Others, with equal determination, claim this is just another example of God’s sovereignty. There was a Sandy because God wanted there to be a Sandy. So take that, New Jersey.

A CNN survey of social media found four main themes running through our cultural psyche: “God Bless,” “Thank God,” “God’s Wrath” and “God Does Not Exist.”

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So who is right?

The only way to answer that is go back to the very beginning of our existence.

God made us in order to love us. We were tenderly crafted and designed, each as an individual, for the purpose of being related to, known and deeply cherished. Yet this meant we were also given the freedom to make choices with our life, to live as fully conscious, self-determining beings. 

Even to the point of whether we were going to respond to the Creator’s love. 

God did not choose to force Himself upon us against our will. Instead, He determined to woo us, knowing that in so doing, we might very well spurn His love. But this was the only way to have relationship be relationship. 

This is the dynamic at the heart of human existence. God could have made me love Him, but if He had, His relationship with me—and mine with Him—would have been meaningless. God wanted my relationship with Him, and with others, to be real. So when He created me, He had to take the risk of setting me free. 

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James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His newest book, Christianity for People Who Aren’t Christians: Uncommon Answers to Common Questions, is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.