Chances are most of us don’t have close friends named Harvey or Irma, but in the last weeks we have spoken those names as frequently as if they were our next-door neighbors. These two hurricanes have ravaged the islands below us, and brutally attacked the coasts and inlands of Texas and Florida. Millions of people have been evacuated, some died, and the estimates are around $200 billion in damage and destruction of homes and businesses. These two powerful hurricanes have actually changed the landscape as their winds uprooted trees that had stood majestically for hundreds of years, leveled carefully built structures, and even changed shorelines.
When something as shattering as these hurricanes happens, the question always surfaces: “Why does God allow this? Why does He do this?” You have to go back to the beginning of mankind to get that answer. God warned our ancestors, Adam and Eve, that the world was created in line with His character. It was perfect, and designed to operate perfectly, as long as sin was kept out of it. But like a rock in a chainbelt, introducing sin into this created world would immediately throw everything off track, and it would never run the same again.
Adam and Eve chose what everyone of their descendants have chosen as well. They succumbed to temptation, and brought sin into this perfect world. Just as God said, the reaction was sure and immediate. The world was broken, and it got hopelessly off track. Weeds sprung up, hearts grew hard, the climate showed the capacity to wreak havoc on humans and animals; animals began to hunt and devour each other—everything changed. Human history is the story of trying to conquer the enemies of disease and death that entered our world through sin. It’s a really broken place, despite its beauty.
Harvey and Irma are not caused by God sitting in heaven, deciding to punish an especially disappointing part of the world. They are not the result of a distant, uncaring God, either. He weeps with us when we hurt. This is not what He planned or wanted. But because of our free choice, mankind had the ability to choose foolishly, but not the ability to choose the consequences. Harvey and Irma are the consequences of living in this beautiful but sinfully broken world. Adam and Eve not only impacted themselves, but the winds of sin whipped through their own family, right up to us today.
We can remark about how shortsighted and foolish and self-centered Adam and Eve were—or we can let hurricanes remind us of how destructive sin always is. No one can afford to “take their chances” and think they will be the one to escape the backlash. When God, the Creator, crafted this world, He set certain laws into the universe that have automatic cause and effect. Like, “what goes up, must come down.” The law of gravity says so. Hosea 8:7 records another law built into the framework of our world: “They sow to the wind and reap the whirlwind.” Hosea reminds us that we always reap more than we sow. The consequences of sowing into the wind are amplified—the seed goes everywhere.
So it is with sin. Always. Not just for Adam and Eve, but for us.Their sin brought tragedy into their own family, impacted the world around them, caused them to have to relocate, and rippled through their descendants. You and I need to look, listen, and learn. Sin is just as destructive as it always was. Of course there is forgiveness. Of course there are second chances. But nothing changes the consequences. It’s a law built into the universe. We need to make wise choices in our own lives. That affair, that divorce, that self-centered financial decision, that wandering away from integrity—it may only last a moment, but the hurricane force wind you set in motion may change everything you actually love and value. You can control your choices, but you can’t control your consequences. Like the hurricane, you will only get to sit back and watch it happen, praying that you and those you love survive.
Be honest about the hurricanes. They aren’t a freak of nature gone crazy, and they aren’t God’s wrath on unsuspecting people. They are what happens naturally when sin breaks a world. Don’t let sin break your world.