I was hanging out one evening last week chewing the fat with some friends over coffee when one of the guys turned the whole conversation. He asked if we thought God was getting back at New Orleans and Biloxi for having a reputation as “sin cities” with hurricane Katrina. That’s one of those loaded questions that has a tendency to shape the whole rest of the conversation.
Now having spent some time down on the street in the Big Easy back in the day I know first hand there are many things that went on there that God, as found in the Bible, would not approve of. And the Bible does say that God destroyed a couple of cities way back when because the people there were so evil, not to mention the whole flood thing in Noah’s day.
However there is no way I am willing to go out on a limb and say that the Gulf Coast brought their suffering on themselves. Jesus himself said that some local calamities in his day did not happen because the people who were killed deserved it more than anyone else. (Luke 13:1-5)
Doug Giles basically says the same thing, but in a much more colorful way.
The other thing I brought up is that if God were trying to “get” those cities then He did an awfully poor job of it. When you read about God punishing in the Bible you find He is pretty stinking thorough. Sodom and Gomorrah were wiped off the map. Permanently. The flood in Noah’s day killed everyone except those God wanted in the boat. Yet on the Gulf Coast there were certainly a lot of bad people who made it through. Just look at the stories about shooting at rescue workers or laying siege to hospitals and fire fighters. The people who did those things are obviously very far from God.
So there are lots of things we can learn from what happened. The first is that suffering is no respecter of persons. Bad things do happen to good people. And when it does, it is not their fault. That may not seem fair to us, but it is the way of the world. Just ask Job. Another thing we can learn is how to pitch in and help people in need. The needs are huge down there. This is an opportunity for us to show our charity and make a difference in the suffering around us.
Another big lesson, I think, is that the government cannot be relied on to save us. When the “big one” comes knocking on your door, you will be better off if you have alternatives other than relying on Uncle Sam. I don’t know why, but it seems that when government gets involved, problems tend to not get solved very quickly. And often government involvement just makes things worse. I’m not saying that the government shouldn’t rescue people after a disaster. I am saying, however, that people who plan on relying on the government to bail them out, for whatever reason, are likely to suffer more than those who can find someone else to help.