Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at roger@preachitteachit.org.

Dear Roger,

The Bible has a lot to say about natural disasters linked to God's judgment. Insurance claims even use the term, "Acts of God" to describe natural disasters as if He was to blame. Is He? Is it possible to know whether or not God is using a certain natural disaster to judge someone? Please enlighten me.

Sincerely, Christy

Dear Christy,

A huge hurricane was bearing down on Virginia Beach, Virginia. Destruction was predicted to be in the billion dollar range. On the airwaves, Pat Robertson was pleading for God to perform a miracle and turn the hurricane away from his home and his international 700 Club headquarters. He encouraged 700 Club members to join him in his prayer for deliverance from the approaching bad weather.

Several days later, the hurricane changed course more to the north. I watched as Pat gave praise and glory to God for answering their prayers and diverting the disaster! The hurricane continued to move up the Eastern Coast of the United States finally slaughtering Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine with torrential rains, floods, destruction and overall mayhem.

I was confused. Was this God's judgment on New England for turning so dramatically away from its spiritual roots of Christianity over the past several centuries?

Did God really answer the Club's prayers and redirect the storm or was it just the normal cycles of hurricane patterns that occur naturally over time? Pat was so excited.

I wondered if the problem was that New England didn't have as many people to pray as did the international 700 Club.

I wondered about the ethics and personal spiritually that could be glad that the hurricane missed the Beach but then brought such pain and suffering to others.

Can natural disasters be God's judgment for a nation's sin (or an individual person's sin)? The answer to that is simple: yes, God does sometimes uses nature to punish sin. In 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 God proclaims how He sometimes deals with sin.

13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Let's think for a moment about the United States. Does the U.S. stand under God's hand of judgment? No doubt. America is no longer a God-fearing nation. It is trending toward a secular country. Sin is everywhere. Think about lying. Lying starts at the top and flows to the bottom. The president lies; Congress lies, the common people lie.

Mrs. Billy Graham said: "If God doesn't bring judgment upon America He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah."

So, we hear about global warming, about PAX storms which blow frigid arctic weather, paralyzing the entire eastern half of our nation with snow and ice. Tornadoes are roaring though Tornado Alley at an increasingly prodigious rate. The western half of the United States is experiencing a decade-long drought. California is out of water. Many say, "These are God's judgments on a sinful society."