That is an excellent question. We will look at two disasters in the Bible (a great storm at sea and a tornado on land) and we will see that God caused the storm and Satan who caused the tornado. We will also see that whether it is God or Satan, God has a purpose in causing it or allowing Satan to cause it. In other words, God is sovereign (in “complete control”) and thus nothing can happen without His direct or permissive will.

The storm is found in the book of Jonah. If you are familiar with the story of Jonah you know that God had called the prophet Jonah to “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me” (Jonah 1:2). But Jonah resisted God’s call and thus we read in verse 3: “But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” This means he went in the opposite direction of Nineveh. Why did he do that? We don’t get the answer to that until the last chapter where Jonah said to the Lord, “Therefore I fled to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm” (4:2). This is very sad, for it reveals that Jonah knew that if the city of Nineveh would repent after hearing God’s message of impending judgment, God would, in grace and mercy, change his mind and spare the city. This is what eventually happened, as we read in chapter 3, for after Jonah finally made his way to Nineveh and preached his message, “the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, for the greatest to the least of them” (verse 5) and “then God saw their hearts, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it” (verse 10). Jonah was thinking solely of himself and his reputation as a prophet instead of God grace and mercy which would cause Him to spare Nineveh once they repented. So, what caused Jonah to finally make his way to Nineveh with God’s message? God “sent a GREAT WIND on the sea, and there was a MIGHTY TEMPEST on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up” (1:4). You can read from this verse all the way through 2:10 to see that God used this “storm” to humble Jonah and to bring him to repent of his sin of disobedience to God’s call.

The tornado is found in the book of Job. In 1:6-7 we read “there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’” This is so instructive, for we learn here that even though Satan is, as you said, “the RULER of this world” (John 12:31 & Ephesians 2:2), he still must come before God and give an account of his actions. In verse 8 God says to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” In verses 9-11 Satan replies, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” In short, Satan is saying that the only reason Job feared God and obeyed Him was because God had BLESSED him, but if He were to remove those blessings, Job would CURSE Him. In verse 12 we see God’s reply, “Behold, all that he has is IN YOUR POWER; only do not lay a hand on his person.” The Lord grants Satan his wish and he is given permission to remove those blessings in order to test Job’s allegiance to God. In the rest of this chapter we see Satan removing those blessings one by one and in verses 18-19 we see he used a TORNADO to kill all of Job’s children: “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and suddenly a GREAT WIND came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead.” We can only imagine how Job’s heart must have sunk when he heard this news (including the loss of his cattle and his servants in verses 13-17), and yet how did Job react? We have the answer in verses 20-22, “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’ In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Job “was TESTED” and he “passed the TEST!” He had no idea that God had allowed Satan to do the testing; He attributed it to God alone and worshiped Him. He realized that God had, in His sovereignty, given him these blessings and that God had the right to take them away. Job never did learn that Satan was involved in this “trial of faith.” What’s the lesson for us? We too should acknowledge that God is sovereign and that whatever He does is just and according to His grand purposes for His glory and our blessing. We need not be concerned with the part Satan may play in our trials, though at times God may reveal to us that He has allowed him to afflict us. A good example of this is seen in 2nd Corinthians 12:7 where the Apostle Paul says, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to KEEP ME FROM EXALTING MYSELF, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, A MESSENGER OF SATAN TO TORMENT ME—to keep me from exalting myself.”

In closing, we have limited our thoughts on how believers should react to natural disasters from God or from Satan. God also uses these disasters to speak to unbelievers and He may use Satan there as well. In either case, God is sovereign and in control of His universe and He uses these to display His power, to humble men, and to hopefully draw their hearts out in worship to Him. (DO) (555.3)