Tsunamis, snowstorms, earthquakes — is God withdrawing His restraining hand and allowing the earth to be engulfed in chaos?
There are a couple of considerations here: God has removed restraint upon people, and the end will be worse than this.
Sinful people find every reason they can imagine to avoid attributing the ultimate cause of ‘natural disasters’ to God (Romans 1:19-21). Because of stubbornly sinful hearts God has withdrawn his restraint and given people up. He has given them up to impurity and debased minds (Romans 1:24, Romans 1:28), but this is a lifting of restraint upon the human soul, not on the earth as such.
Now consider how catastrophic the end will really be. In Matthew 24:7-8 Jesus speaks of wars, famines and earthquakes as being the beginning of birth pains. With three children who were all born at least a week after their ‘due’ dates I know the relief it can be when labour finally begins. Yet that’s just the beginning of a long ordeal, it is called ‘labour’ for good reason! There is a long, hard slog before a baby is finally born. So, after describing tribulations awaiting the church, faithlessness, false teachers, increasing lawlessness and fading love for Christ, Jesus speaks of the ultimate idolatry (the abomination of desolation). Accompanying this ultimate idol will be great suffering and false christs. After this catastrophic astronomical events will occur (Matthew 24:29-30) and then Jesus will appear in glory.
What we have witnessed in the last year even is not on the catastrophic scale of the end time events. Clearly labour pains that are strong, but God still holds back the destroying angels (Revelation 9:14-15).
The entire creation, the very earth upon which we live, is groaning in the pains of childbirth (Romans 8:22). What sort of birth will this be? The revealing of the children of God, redeemed and adopted in Christ! (Romans 8:23).
Mourn with those who mourn, and also rejoice that your name is written in the book of life. We dwell in a broken and breaking world, yet in this world of suffering we have hope as we await the heavenly city.