This week, islands in the Caribbean have been battered by the second category 5 hurricane in as many weeks. And in central Mexico hundreds have died in a huge earthquake. Where is God when things like this happen?

 

The islands of the Caribbean are used to hurricanes but in almost 100 years of records, 2017 is only the second time that more than one category 5 hurricane has made landfall. Hurricane Irma caused widespread damage from Barbuda, westward across the British Virgin Islands to Cuba and on to Florida. In some areas 95% of buildings were so badly damaged as to be irreparable. An estimated 1.2 million people are thought to be affected. Hurricane Maria is following roughly the same path as Hurricane Irma. Much of the damage is as yet unknown as communications have been cut off, but unofficial reports from Dominica say that more than 90% of buildings have been damaged. People on other islands in its path are being strongly urged to seek shelter, amid fears that debris from Hurricane Irma could become deadly wind-blown missiles.

 

The 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico came exactly 32 years after an earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City. Although its epicentre was 120 km south of Mexico City, dozens of buildings in the capital collapsed. Over 200 people are known to have died, including over 20 children in a school that collapsed. Others are missing and the death toll is expected to rise as rescue workers search through the rubble of collapsed buildings.

 

‘Where is God when people suffer?’ and particularly, ‘Where is God when good or innocent people suffer?’ are questions that people have probably always asked. People commonly blame God when natural disasters happen, with insurance companies sometimes even describing these as ‘acts of God’. Jesus’ words and actions strongly refuted the popular view of his time that if you suffered, it must be God’s punishment for something you had done, but sadly such a view has never completely gone away in Christian history. Most Christians though, see God not as the cause of suffering, but as suffering with those who suffer, and working through all those who seek to bring relief.

 

  • If we either blame God for ‘bad’ things, or expect him to fix them, what does that say about our image of God?

 

Science teaches us that humanity is affecting the world’s climate, and therefore its weather patterns. Christianity teaches that we each have a responsibility to care for one another.

 

  • Reflect on all the ways in which these might influence your response to the events in the Caribbean and in Mexico.

 

Prayer for the week - 21st September 2017

 

 

Where I live, it feels as though we’ve had quite a wet spell recently. Our rain hasn’t brought any major problems, unlike the storms elsewhere, and perhaps if it had I would feel differently, but I actually often enjoy rain!

 

 

This week President Putin of Russia urged the world to pursue a diplomatic solution to the tension between North Korea and the rest of the world, saying that ramping up the ‘military hysteria’ could lead to a global catastrophe.

 

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