Question: When there is a natural disaster like an earthquake or hurricane that claims many lives, some people say that God is judging those people for their sins. Does God really operate that way?
Answer: Only God knows why certain events happen to people in one country or area and not to those in another, or to certain individuals and not to others. Paul said that the judgments of God are “unsearchable, and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?”1
It’s not our place to apportion blame and sin, or to pass sweeping judgments as to why people suffer in natural disasters or other catastrophic events. God alone knows all the factors and all the reasons those things occur, and only He has the ability to judge these situations.
Also, the Bible makes it clear that each person stands before God as an individual.2 God doesn’t hold every person in a nation accountable for the ills and evils of the nation, or for the mistakes and sins of its leaders. Governments may be misguided, morally bankrupt, corrupt, or evil in some cases, but that doesn’t mean that all of the people in those countries are guilty of these things collectively.
“God is love,”3 and “He is not willing that any should perish.”4 Each person is a unique individual, created by God in His own image,5 and God loves each one as if they were the only one. Each person is someone Jesus died to save.6
God takes people where they’re at and works in their hearts and lives accordingly. He loves every single man, woman, and child, no matter who they are, where they live, what color their skin is, what their ancestors did or didn’t do, or what they believe or don’t believe. He still loves them, even if their lives are consumed with sin or they live in spiritual darkness.
When a disaster happens, the Christian graces of love, compassion, sympathy, caring, kindness, generosity, and goodness should most be on display.