If God is sovereign, why does He allow natural disasters and catastrophes?

If God is in control of everything — the weather, the oceans, the earth — why does He allow innocent people to die because of earthquakes, floods, tornados, tsunamis?

It’s a tough question and one we’ve probably all asked at some point in our lives. We don’t always understand why, but we can trust that God knows what He’s doing and He has a purpose for everything that happens. He’s still in control, and we have to rest in His sovereignty.

I will never forget the summer of 1976 — July 31, to be exact. I was on staff with Cru, and was attending the annual staff training at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, outside of Estes Park.

Our national women leadership were in the mountains for the weekend having a leadership retreat before the official staff training began. We went to our opening session Sunday morning and heard the news that there had been a flash flood in the Big Thompson Canyon the night before where our women were meeting. Most of the women had gotten back to CSU safely, but eleven were missing.

By the end of the day, we found out that seven young women had gone home to be with the Lord. Most of these women were in their twenties and thirties. It didn’t make sense.

“Lord, these women have committed their lives to serve you, and they were being used by you. Why would you take them home now? Why didn’t you protect them from this flood like you did the rest of the women? You’re in control and could have stopped this from happening. Why didn’t you?”

As we met together that week to process what had happened, the resounding theme during that time was God is sovereign. He allowed those things to happen for a purpose, beyond what we could see then.

Later, we found out that family members came to Christ as a result of those young women’s deaths. Who knows how many people have been impacted for eternity because of their lives and their deaths?

One of the girls had even told Vonette Bright the week before that she would give her life for her brother to come to Christ. She did.

Yes, God is in control. He is sovereign. But, in His sovereignty, He allows hard things to happen for good, according to His bigger purpose which we can’t always see. In times like these, when we don’t understand why, we have to rest in His sovereignty and the truth of Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

I don’t always understand why, but I know my God. And that’s where I have to focus in those times of asking why.

How have you seen God use tough situations for good?

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