737. What is God’s purpose in inflicting destructive scourges upon humankind?
“To make human beings advance more quickly. As we have already stated, destruction is necessary for the moral regeneration of spirits, who move one step closer to perfection in each new existence. To appreciate the results, we must consider the purpose or the end. If you only judge them from your personal point of view, they appear to be plagues because of the harm they cause you. Such events are often needed to spur faster development and achieve in only a few years what would otherwise have taken centuries to accomplish.” (See no. 744)
738. Could God improve humankind by using methods other than destructive scourges?
“Yes, and God uses them every day. The Creator has given each of you the means of progressing through the knowledge of good and iniquity. Because humans profit so little by those other means, it is necessary to wound their pride and to make them feel their weaknesses.”
a) Good people fall victim to these scourges just as much as bad people do. Is it fair?
“On Earth, human beings measure everything against their physical lives. After death, they see things differently and feel that the physical life is nothing. A century in your world is but a flash in eternity; therefore, the suffering of days, months, or even years on Earth are of no significance, and are only a lesson that will serve you in the future. Spirits are the real world, preexistent to and surviving everything else (See no. 85). They are God’s children and the focus of all Divine concern. Bodies are only the outer shells under which they appear in the physical world. When great scourges decimate the human race, the victims are like an army whose clothing is torn, worn out or lost in battle. A general cares more about his soldiers than their coats.”
b) But the victims of these calamities are victims nonetheless.
“If you viewed life on Earth for what it truly is, and as being so small in comparison to infinity, you would attach much less importance to it. These victims will find significant compensation for their pain in another existence, if they bear their suffering with resignation.”
Whether death is the result of a public disaster or results from an ordinary cause, we are forced to go when the hour of our departure has come. The only difference is that more such departures occur at the same time in the event of a public disaster. If we could elevate ourselves to contemplate the human race as a whole, the calamities that seem so terrible now would be reduced to passing storms in the destiny of the world.
739. Are destructive plagues physically useful, despite the evils prompted by them?
“Yes, they sometimes change the state of a region, but the good that results from them is often enjoyed by future generations.”
740. Could such calamities also be a moral trial for human beings, forcing them to suffer the hardest struggles?
“They are trials that provide them with the opportunity to exercise their intelligence, showing their patience and submission to God’s will, and displaying their self-sacrifice, disinterestedness, and love for their neighbor, if they are not dominated by selfishness.”
741. Do human beings have the power to avert the terrors that now afflict them?
“Some of them, but not as is commonly believed. Many of those plagues are the consequence of their lack of foresight; therefore, as they acquire knowledge and experience, they are able to avert them. They can prevent their occurrence when they have determined their cause. Consequently, among the misfortunes that plague humanity, there are some of a general nature that are imposed by God’s plans, and the effect of which is felt more or less by each individual. Human beings can do nothing but accept God’s will, yet they often aggravate their own pain and suffering due to their negligence.”
Destructive calamities with natural causes, which are independent of human actions, include epidemics, famines, foods and weather events that destroy the fruits of the Earth. Human beings have used science to discover methods for achieving agricultural improvements, through crop rotation, irrigation, the study of hygienic conditions, and the means of offsetting or at least mitigating many of these disasters. Are many countries today not protected from terrible calamities that once devastated them? Imagine what people could accomplish for their physical well-being when they learn to leverage all the resources of their intelligence, and when they add a true sense of charity for the whole human race to their concern for their own self-preservation. (See no. 707)