Hurricanes & God’s Judgment

(Editor’s Note:  Below is a recent email exchange I had which followed the landfall of hurricane Isaac in late August.)

Geno,

I forget which well-known preacher (or preachers) said 7 years ago that hurricane Katrina was a judgment from God.  I remember clearly thinking to myself that he or they certainly had no way of proving that.  And besides, I tend to think of our present age as being one of grace, and the next judgment to come will be that of the Great White throne.  I simply considered the statement to be a little mean and judgmental.  But when another hurricane hits exactly the same state exactly 7 years later to the very day, I have to pause and wonder to myself that just maybe possibly God may be doing some things that I don’t fully recognize.  To me a hurricane hitting exactly the same state exactly 7 years later to the very day has to be just a little more than slightly coincidental.

  What do you think?

Great question.

Mainly I (Geno) think God is judging things all the time and we can’t see it because His judgments are inscrutable.  When God wants the world to know of His judgment, He is pretty clear about them.  For example, He judged the Nazi regime and it fell…hard.  On a more personal level, I generally know when a given action displeases God and he brings judgment against me.  For example, God has recently convicted me about watching a particular movie.  I had to confess that I should have turned it off and then I had to ask God to forgive and cleanse me from watching it.

So when I hear that a prominent preacher has labeled some action as God’s judgment, then I generally interpret that to mean that if he were God, that’s what he would do.  So I don’t pay much attention to such pronouncements.

Now, about two hurricanes seven years apart.  The natural explanation for this is that hurricanes are always forming during the annual season off the west coast of Africa and traveling across the Atlantic and hitting the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.  They frequently run up the mouth of the Mississippi due to its large confluence in the Gulf and the way the U.S. drains into this large river basin (it being the low point).

In the book ‘Isaac’s Storm’ which tells the story of the 1900 hurricane that wiped out Corpus Christi, the author noted that the weather station chief (Isaac) told people that hurricanes rarely struck twice in the same place–which was the science of the day.  When the truth was that hurricanes struck Corpus Christi on a regular basis.

Seven years is important biblically, but perhaps not so important statistically.  My guess is that someone has already run the statistical probability on the frequency of hurricanes striking the mouth of the Mississippi.

I hope this helps,

–Geno

(P.S.  It turns out that hurricanes strike the Louisiana coast at a frequency of one every two years or so.  This is due to prevailing weather patterns which tend to draw hurricanes  into the lowlands of Louisiana and Mississippi.  See here for more information.  Also NOAA maintains great information on destructive hurricanes.)

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