The following article is used with permission from our friends at www.gotquestions.org
Question: "Why does God allow natural disasters, i.e. earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis?"
Answer: Why does God allow earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, cyclones, mudslides, and other natural disasters? Tragedies such as the 2004 tsunami in Asia, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the 2008 cyclone in Myanmar, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti cause many people to question God’s goodness. It is distressing that natural disasters are often termed “acts of God” while no “credit” is given to God for years, decades, or even centuries of peaceful weather. God created the whole universe and the laws of nature (Genesis 1:1). Most natural disasters are a result of these laws at work. Hurricanes, typhoons, and tornados are the results of divergent weather patterns colliding. Earthquakes are the result of the earth’s plate structure shifting. A tsunami is caused by an underwater earthquake.
[Image to left is of the Iceland volcano: Eyjafjallajökull] The Bible proclaims that Jesus Christ holds all of nature together (Colossians 1:16-17). Could God prevent natural disasters? Absolutely! Does God sometimes influence the weather? Yes, as we see in Deuteronomy 11:17 and James 5:17. Numbers 16:30-34 shows us that God sometimes causes natural disasters as a judgment against sin. The book of Revelation describes many events which could definitely be described as natural disasters (Revelation chapters 6, 8, and 16). Is every natural disaster a punishment from God? Absolutely not.
In much the same way that God allows evil people to commit evil acts, God allows the earth to reflect the consequences sin has had on creation. Romans 8:19-21 tells us, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” The fall of humanity into sin had effects on everything, including the world we inhabit. Everything in creation is subject to “frustration” and “decay.” Sin is the ultimate cause of natural disasters just as it is the cause of death, disease, and suffering.
We can understand why natural disasters occur. What we do not understand is why God allows them to occur. Why did God allow the tsunami to kill over 225,000 people in Asia? Why did God allow Hurricane Katrina to destroy the homes of thousands of people? For one thing, such events shake our confidence in this life and force us to think about eternity. Churches are usually filled after disasters as people realize how tenuous their lives really are and how life can be taken away in an instant. What we do know is this: God is good! Many amazing miracles occurred during the course of natural disasters that prevented even greater loss of life. Natural disasters cause millions of people to reevaluate their priorities in life. Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid is sent to help the people who are suffering. Christian ministries have the opportunity to help, minister, counsel, pray, and lead people to saving faith in Christ! God can, and does, bring great good out of terrible tragedies (Romans 8:28). [Image above shows destruction from Christchurch earthquake, New Zealand]
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Earthquakes in the last century - Are they getting WORSE?
If you look at the frequency of this century's "major" earthquakes (7.0 to 7.9) and the "great" earthquakes (8.0 and higher), from 1900 to 1996 there were on average 19 "major" quakes and 1 "great" quake per year with no great change in frequency or magnitude. The 1940's was the decade of the most energetic earthquakes and the 1980's the decade of the least energetic earthquakes. There does not appear to be any trend.
From 1900 to 1949 there were about 22 big earthquakes per year. From 1950 to 1996 there have been around 18 earthquakes per year. This slight decrease is considered by those who believe the biblical account of creation, to be consistent with the view that overall, there would be ever decreasing activity of the tectonic plates and volcanic activity from the time of "Noah's" Flood.
Some have thought the Bible speaks of an increase in frequency and magnitude of earthquakes leading up to the day of judgement. However, the Bible actually only describes the occurrence of earthquakes and other disasters and makes no specific mention of their frequency or intensity. It says these things will continue up to the day of judgement. And it says this will be in various and in diverse places. It says their presence will be like be like the beginning of birth pangs. When birth pains begin, they are irregular in frequency and intensity. This is what we see when we examine seismic activity over the last century: it resembles the beginning stages of birth pangs; irregular in frequency and intensity and occurring at various times.
And just like birth pangs, earthquakes (and other natural disasters) will continue to happen right up to the big event. For the mother, it is the birth of a baby. With regard to end time events, it is the birth of God's eternal kingdom in all it's power and glory. As with the birth of a child, there will be more pain before the day arrives. So also with the final consummation of God's kingdom, there will be great and painful judgements on the earth right up until the end, before the day arrives.
The Book of Revelation says that in the end (involving greater pain that we have seen to date, leading up to judgement day itself) there will also be a great earthquake bigger than any the world has previously known. All other quakes are simply a reminder that there will be an end and to get ready for a day of Judgement.
Jesus Christ said that earthquakes were one of the as "signs" of His coming again to take those who look to him for salvation, to heaven. He said there would be earthquakes in diverse places (Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:8). This has now been proved true by the way seismographs are able to record earthquakes all over the world. The thing that stands out in Jesus comments is that the earthquake was a sign of the "beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:8; Mark 13:8). The word from which "sorrows" is translated is from the Greek word for "birth pangs."
It can been seen from this that as birth pangs are a sign that a mother is about to give birth, so are the painful signs of natural disasters a sign of God's coming judgement. Jesus, who was judged and crucified, will return to judge the whole earth. Earthquake activity in the world today is just as Jesus described - like birth pangs. Therefore, every time a birth pang (earthquake) occurs, it is a reminder that the day will surely come when he will return to judge the earth.
This theme of birth pangs occurs in other parts of the Bible such as where it speaks of the whole creation "groaning in travail" (Romans 8:22) and awaiting the new birth of the world. In the last book of the Bible we read about a "great earthquake" at the time of the opening of the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12). This is followed by the sign of the pregnant woman (Revelation 12:2), and then by the sign of the greatest earthquake the world has ever seen since the creation of mankind (Revelation 16:18-20).
The Armageddon earthquake is connected with Christ's return to Jerusalem (Acts 1:9-11; Zechariah 14:1-11). At this time there will be unprecedented destruction on the earth world wide. After God's voice shakes the earth (Hebrews 12:26) and and all these earth shattering events have happened, God's people will finally receive a "kingdom which cannot be moved" (Hebrews 12:27-29).
The information in this section on earthquakes was sourced from the following link: http://www.icr.org/article/twentieth-century-earthquakes-confronting-urban-le/
For info on seismic activity visit http://wwwneic.cr.usgs.gov/neis/eqlists/7up.html
For global summaries of the frequency of large earthquakes visit the following link: http://wwwneic.cr.usgs.gov/neis/eqlists/7up.html
For what to do in an earthquake follow this link: http://www.fema.gov/hazard/earthquake/eq_during.shtm
What about the triangle of life by Doug Copp? Check this link out: http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/household/triangle.asp