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Katrina and God's Judgment
When disasters strike, people of faith tend to use religious points of view to defend their lifestyles and condemn as sinful the behaviours of others. We need to look in the mirror.

"When a calamity happens to a city or a nation, it is imperative that we as Christians be accurate in our discernment as to whether it is Satan doing his thing, or if it is God dispensing His judgement … we are Christ's Ambassadors, and like any good representative, we had better be sure about what our King would have us speak at such a critical time. God alone is the One who has the power and authority both to withhold or to bring about judgement." From Arise and Walk.

… we can trust that the Lord upholds all things.

In B.C. the Christian Heritage Party has taken the position that Katrina is the voice of God, with CBS correspondent Dan Dolan arguing that Katrina was God's warning to the United States to stop pressuring Israel to give up Gaza. Similarly, some Muslim publications maintain that Katrina was God's judgment on American infidels.

Everyone wants to use a disaster to support their worldview. Things are rarely so simple. Does Katrina represent divine judgment, or our foolish avoidance of the limits of nature? Is God's power only manifest in supernatural intervention? "The rain falls on the evil and the good." God has set an order in nature, clearly taught in Psalm 19.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
the earth proclaims His handiwork.
In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun,
which is like a bridegroom coming forth from His pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.

The Psalmist begins by declaring that God is intimately involved in creation. He describes the rising and setting of the sun, and the boundaries God has set for it. Then he transitions to describing God's word through the moral law.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
Reviving the soul;
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
Making wise the simple.

His point is that we can trust that the Lord upholds all things. Just as the sun rises and sets every day, we can trust that the Lord upholds truth and justice. In fact, He has set His law in our hearts and minds.

The wise man reads the law of the Lord in both books: the book of creation, and the book of Scripture. Ignoring the order of God in creation, or the order of God in our families and nations, risks running smack into a wall. Yet while we proclaim the wisdom of observing moral law, we continually abuse creation.

In our greed and our need to support an ever expanding economy and ever growing profits, we ignore the order of creation. We build expensive homes amidst pine forests, and when small fires start, we quickly extinguish them, allowing deadfall and pine needles to accumulate. We set ourselves up for uncontrollable wild fires.

Similarly, we pour huge amounts of toxins into the air and the water, and we gradually diminish the protection of the ozone layer, and our cars and industry raise the temperature of the oceans and atmosphere. Then we complain that the climate is changing and the storms are growing more frequent and more fierce.

Foolish humans. we don't honour the rhythms that the Lord has built into creation. Then we use the negative results to reinforce a particular view of religion, usually one that supports our own lifestyles (greed and neglecting the poor is sin) while condemning the sin (usually sexual) of others. We don't hear believers talking about sustainability or climate change when the hurricane hits—we don't look at our own choices and our lifestyle. We don't reflect on our neglect of the poor. Instead, we look at our neighbours and the wild parties they throw. We condemn them while failing to look in the mirror.

We forget who we are. We are equally in need of grace.

Instead of debating the "meaning" of Katrina, we should be doing what we know to do: Micah 6:8:

"He has told you, O man, what is good …
And what does the Lord require of you?
To do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God."

Wake up Church! Judgment begins with the household of faith.

Does Katrina have a voice? He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Leonard Hjalmarson, a writer and software developer, is a graduate of MB Biblical Seminary. His articles are published primarily at and His web site is He can be reached at

Originally published in the Christian Courier, September 26, 2005.




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