Maisie Korne, a faithful Infinitian from Endless Plain, Saskatchewan, Canada, wants to know, “When God One or one of the other Gods inflicts a severe drought on a major agricultural area is He or She punishing the local farmers, who will be hurt financially, or consumers, who will incur higher food costs and have fewer food choices?”
Maisie, you phrased that as an either-or question. You might be right about that in a particular instance, but not in all instances. It is true that in some cases the God who caused the drought may be punishing only one of those groups. The other group may be merely collateral damage.
Unfortunately this doesn’t answer your question even in the instances when a single group is being punished. In these cases, the choice of a target is not consistent. Unless the culpable God claims responsibility and explains His or Her motive, we are left to guess—and there is no shortage of evangelists eager to guess—which group is being intentionally punished by the God in question.
Then again, as you’ve probably guessed by the careful qualifications I attached to my statements above, it’s not always just one or the other. The responsible God may be punishing farmers and consumers simultaneously. Again, we can’t be sure of this unless the responsible God communicates with one of the Sages of the Church of Infinitiaty or one of the other high officials of the Church (who are the only people the Gods speak with directly) to explain His or Her actions. That rarely happens.
Yet, even the addition of a “both” option does not complete the picture. You’ve ignored at least two other likely possibilities: A God was involved, but He or She was rewarding rather than punishing someone. Or it’s also possible that none of the Gods had anything to do with it.
Purposes of Droughts
Let’s consider the first of the additional possibilities I proposed. The primary purpose of the drought may be to reward, not punish someone. How can this be? Someone—often a great number of someones—suffers in a drought. So how can droughts possibly deliver rewards? The answer is simple.
Extreme dry spells don’t hit all areas of the planet at once. When a drought decimates one or two major agricultural areas the prices of crops normally grown in those areas typically go up, often substantially. Farmers growing the same crops in areas that have favorable temperatures and still have ample, but not excessive moisture will profit from the drought-stricken farmers’ misfortune, i.e., the drought, brought on by a God’s hand, will reward the fortunate farmers.
When Gods set Themselves objectives, they adopt a laser-sharp focus on fulfilling those objectives. They almost never consider the knock-on effects on people other than the ones they are punishing or rewarding.
Thus, if a God wants, for example, to reward a farmer who made a major contribution to the Church of Infinitiaty, that God will do whatever it takes to deliver that reward. If another basically good farmer who wasn’t quite as generous to the Church gets hurt in the process, well, that’s just the price that must be paid for seeing that justice is done for the bigger benefactor.
By the same token, other farmers growing the same crops as the rewarded farmer in the same or other unaffected areas will share in the reward even though the God who created the drought did not intend to favor them. Thus, on average, the result is roughly fair.
The unintended rewards frequently approximately balance out the unintended punishments during each drought. And, even if that balance doesn’t hold true for a specific drought, it will generally right itself in the fullness of time over a series of droughts.
Some win. Some lose. But it all averages out. Thus, justice is maintained in the aggregate when evaluated across eternity.
What about the other possibility I suggested? Is it possible that there was no God involved at all? Absolutely! When people suffer it is usually a result of a God exacting punishment or issuing a reward, but not always. Sometimes, droughts just happen. They might be an act of nature, not of a God. You never know.
So, Maisie, it is impossible to generalize accurately about the reasons for droughts. Sometimes they are brought about to punish farmers, sometimes consumers, and sometimes both. Other times they are brought about to generate rewards. And still other times they just happen for no reason other than natural climatic factors.
In short, it all depends.