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What Does the Bible Say About Natural Disasters?

The Bible’s answer

God does not cause the natural disasters occurring today, but he is concerned about people who are affected by them. Natural disasters are one of the causes of suffering that God’s Kingdom will eliminate. In the meantime, God provides comfort for those who are affected by natural disasters.​—2 Corinthians 1:3.

 Why can we be sure that natural disasters are not punishment from God?

Natural disasters differ from God’s use of natural forces, as recorded in the Bible.

  • Natural disasters kill and maim indiscriminately. In contrast, God’s acts of judgment recorded in the Bible were selective. For example, when God destroyed the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, he spared the good man Lot and his two daughters. (Genesis 19:29, 30) God read the hearts of the individuals of that time and destroyed only those he deemed wicked.​—Genesis 18:23-​32; 1 Samuel 16:7.

  • Natural disasters usually strike with little or no warning. On the other hand, God gave warnings to the wicked before using natural forces against them. The people who heeded the warnings had an opportunity to escape disaster.​—Genesis 7:​1-5; Matthew 24:38, 39.

  • To some extent, humans have contributed to natural disasters. How? By damaging the natural environment and by building in areas prone to earthquakes, floods, and extreme weather. (Revelation 11:18) God is not to blame for such human choices.​—Proverbs 19:3.

 Are natural disasters a sign of the times?

Yes, Bible prophecies suggest that there would be disasters during “the conclusion of the system of things,” or “the last days.” (Matthew 24:3; 2 Timothy 3:1) For example, concerning our time, Jesus said: “There will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another.” (Matthew 24:7) Soon, God will rid the earth of all causes of pain and suffering, including natural disasters.​—Revelation 21:​3, 4.

 How does God help victims of natural disasters?

  • God comforts victims with his Word, the Bible. The Bible assures us that God cares for us and that he feels for us when we suffer. (Isaiah 63:9; 1 Peter 5:​6, 7) It also reveals his promise of a time when natural disasters will not happen anymore.​—See “ Bible verses to comfort victims of natural disasters.”

  • God helps victims by means of his worshippers. God uses his worshippers on earth to imitate the example set by Jesus. It was prophesied that Jesus would comfort “the brokenhearted” and “all who mourn.” (Isaiah 61:​1, 2) Worshippers of God strive to do the same.​—John 13:15.

    God also uses his worshippers to provide practical relief to victims of natural disasters.​—Acts 11:28-30; Galatians 6:​10.

Jehovah’s Witnesses providing practical relief to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico

 Can the Bible help with natural-disaster preparedness?

Yes. Although the Bible is not a manual for disaster preparedness, it contains principles that can help. For example:

  • Plan ahead for potential disasters. “The shrewd one sees the danger and conceals himself,” says the Bible. (Proverbs 22:3) We are wise to prepare an emergency plan in advance. Such planning may include assembling an emergency kit that is ready to go in case of an emergency and rehearsing with one’s family where to meet if a disaster occurs.

  • Value life over possessions. The Bible acknowledges: “We have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out.” (1 Timothy 6:​7, 8) We need to be willing to leave our home and possessions in order to escape disaster. We do well to remember that our life is more important than any material things.​—Matthew 6:​25.