The last blog covered an opinion on natural disasters solely by St. John Chrysostom. This post covers the final section of this series. Let’s continue finding answers to many of our questions regarding these natural events.
Why, then, does the bible call these calamities evil, as in Amos 3:6 & Isaiah 45:7? St. John Chrysostom says:
“He calls them by the name of evil the affliction, which arises from our punishment; thus naming it not in regard to its own nature, but according to that view which men take of it. For since we are accustomed to calling by the name of evil, not only thefts and adulteries but also calamities; so he has called the matter, according to the estimate of mankind.”
To help us understand his point of view, St. John gives us a very practical example:
“For the physician is not only to be commended when he leads forth the patient into gardens and meadows, nor even into baths and pools of water, nor yet when he sets before him a well-furnished table, but when he orders him to remain without food, when he oppresses him with hunger and lays him low with thirst, confines him to his bed, both making his house a prison, and depriving him of the very light, and shadowing his room on all sides with curtains, and when he cuts, and when he cauterizes, and when he brings his bitter medicines, he is equally a physician.”
For those who say, it’s easy for us to hold this opinion because we aren’t affected by these events, he says:
“But the poor alone feel hunger, says one. But He does not chasten with hunger alone, but with countless other things. Him who is in poverty He has often corrected with hunger, but the rich and him who enjoys prosperity, with dangers, diseases, untimely deaths. For He is full of resources, and the medicines which He has for our salvation are manifold.” St. John here is saying, that God chastens everyone differently. “He does not chasten all, in order that he may persuade you, that there is a Resurrection. But he chastens some in order that he may make the more careless, through fear by means of the punishment of the others, more in earnest. Again, He honors certain of the good, in order that He may lead on others by His honors to emulate their virtue. But He does not honor all, in order that you may learn that there is another season for rendering to all their recompense.”
If God chastises us, do we even get to see and experience His love?
“He loves us, and loves us exceedingly with an inconceivable love, a love which though impassible is also fervent, vigorous, genuine, indissoluble, and inextinguishable.” Then he continues, “God made this wondrous and altogether harmonious creation for no one else but for you. So beautiful and so vast, diverse, sumptuous, sufficient, useful, and in every way profitable, being sustenance and support for the body, wisdom for the soul and suitable path to the knowledge of God—He made it for you.”
What’s the outcome of all this?
“By the outcome, I do not mean only the outcome in the present life—for often it will be here, as well—but also that in the life to come. God’s economy is directed toward a single end in each of these lives: our salvation and good repute. Even if it is divided in two with regard to time, it is united with regard to the objective.” St. John is saying that God out of His care and love for us, sets before His eyes our salvation as His purpose.
Brothers and sisters, some matters are difficult to understand and not for man to inquire, because His wisdom is unsearchable. Let’s finish with another quote from St. John, “The providence of God is more evident than the sun and its rays. At every time and in every place you will perceive clear and sufficient reminders…from every side come voices that are more distinct than our reason-endowed voices and that teach of God’s care—to him who is willing to hear”.