Storms shake up the physical world but not our spiritual world. That was the response that HuffPost Religion received when we asked our readers if their faith was shaken up by natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy. Most of our readers claimed their belief in a higher power to be unshakeable.
While reactions to severe weather can fall into two categories – blaming a “sinful” group or questioning God, responses from the HuffPost Religion insist that that hurling accusations about God’s wrath can be just as destructive as the storm itself.
Reader Don Belmont wrote, “Storms are part of the natural balance and cycle. Not scheduled or created for any reason. They are definitely not a punishment. They do give human beings the opportunity to challenge themselves and to show care for their fellow beings.”
People of faith are also left with an opportunity to speak honestly.
Reader Debra Pike wrote, “It’s human nature to wonder why things happen and the most religious of us would be lying if we said it has no effect upon us.”
Adding an extra dose reality, Pike also wrote, “Never tell a person that has lost everything in a storm that God did it for a reason. That’s really bad to say that. No one knows but God.”
While anticipation of Hurricane Sandy uproots our physical and mental comfort zones, one reader said the storm has a positive affect on his inner life. Reader Jim Keenan wrote, “It makes me more spiritual, as I pray for those in harm's way.”
As the physical world is in a state of increasing threat, a more ethereal sense of concern is happening deep in our psyche when we consider our own lives and the lives of our loved ones in danger due to an uncontrollable weather force.
Accepting powerlessness is something reader Marilyn Bryan identifies with. She wrote, “My faith helps me to make the best of whatever comes, to change what I can change and make the best of that I cannot.”
As people consume news reports of damage already done, opportunities for generosity arise. Reader Kat Hussein Liu added sound advice to HuffPost Religion's community thread. She wrote, “ God is evident when people reach across boundaries and come together. God can soften hearts, remind us via that still small voice within each of us that we are all interconnected and when you suffer I suffer too. It's up to each of us to choose whether we listen to that voice or not.”
The question of personal faith being shaken by a catastrophic storm led commenters to bring up evil and the origin of suffering. Reader Tom Berndt wrote, “Theodicy is an important question: If God is omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, and loving, why is there suffering in the world? All suffering, not particular suffering, can be blamed on original sin. With particular suffering, we can look to God's help and compassion. God suffers with us, and so, aids us through our prayers.”
How is your faith affected by natural disasters? Please share your thoughts in the comments.