I don’t remember where I heard this quote. It doesn’t matter.
I’m sure it can be reworded as, “We bleed words that are biblical when we are broken” or, “When disasters come Christians should proclaim truth”.
Our world has had a prevailing belief for many years called Open Theology. I’ll explain what this is. “A few theologians are now teaching that God doesn't know the future precisely because the future does not yet exist. Thus, while God is very good at calculating the odds, he still takes risks – especially in dealing with his free creatures." (Christianity Today, vol. 45, no. 7, May 21, 2001, pp. 39-40). This would sound like “When an individual inflicts pain on another individual, [one should not] go looking for 'the purpose of God' in the event . . . Christians frequently speak of 'the purpose of God' in the midst of tragedy caused by someone else. . . . But this I regard to simply be a piously confused way of thinking.” (Washington Post article in the StarTribune [Saturday, May 12, 2001, Faith & Values Section]) In other words, when 9/11 occurred God had no particular purpose or design that 2,752 people died while you and others lived.
The reason this is so relevant and so pointed in our lives today is that these theological debates have enormous implications for piety and pastoral care – especially for how we respond to the tragedies that invade our lives.
In Psalm 105 we have an inspired interpretation of an inspired Old Testament story, the story of Israel going down to Egypt preceded by Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers. We learn two crucial things from verses 16-17, "And [God] called for a famine upon the land; He broke the whole staff of bread. He sent a man before them Joseph, who was sold as a slave."
Notice two things: the governance of God over natural calamities, and the governance of God over the sinful actions of men. It says "God called for a famine" – that is a natural calamity that came on the world. God CALLED it forth. He said, “Famine, Come!” God didn’t LET this thing happen, God CAUSED it. And it says, God "sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave." Notice the word “sent”. God SENT Joseph.
His brothers were in sin: they beat him, threw him in a pit, and sold him into slavery, all with hate and envy in their hearts. This was very sinful, and God calls it His SENDING. And in that sinful act God had a purpose – so much so that the psalmist called their sinning God's sending – just like it says in Genesis 50:20 (Joseph to his brothers), "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." This verse does not say, “God used it” or even “God let this happen, but then He used it for good.” The Bible does not teach that God lets things happen then plays catch-up ball. When it says, "God meant it," it says more than, "God used it." This is more, this is Sovereignty over men! This is the exact opposite of what openness theology teaches. God does have good purposes, intentions, and meanings in the hurts that others inflict on us. And we may and should take great comfort in this sovereign goodness in the setbacks, disappointments, heartaches, calamities, and bitter providences of our lives.
Even if Satan caused Hurricane Katrina, he is not the decisive cause of 1,000+ deaths, God is.
God claims power over hurricanes and tsunamis in Job 38:8 when He asks Job rhetorically, “Who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb . . . and said[to the ocean], ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?” Psalm 89:8-9 says, “O Lord . . . you rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.” And Jesus himself has the same control today as he once did over the deadly threats of waves: “He . . . rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm” (Luke 8:24). In other words, even if Satan caused the hurricane, God could have stopped the waves.
In Matthew 10:28-31 Jesus says to his disciples to get them ready for suffering:
Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (29). Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. (30) But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (31) So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
Notice three things. First, Jesus knows that people will kill his missionaries. But, he says, don't fear those who can only kill the body, and can't kill the soul (verse 28). Second, he says that we don't need to fear this hostility because no sparrow falls to the ground apart from God. And you, his disciples, are more valuable than many sparrows.
God guides the flight of the sparrow, and God guides the flight of the arrow…and the bullet.
This is the basis of every Bible story about the victory of God. "The horse is made ready for battle but victory belongs to the Lord" (Proverbs 21:31). As the course of birds, arrows, bullets, and hurricanes belong to the Lord. This is the solid ground of our comfort in calamity: God's sovereign goodness to all who trust him.
So where was God when Katrina hit? The same place He has always been, as it says in Isaiah 6.