On Not Connecting Natural Disasters with Current Events
I think the question of connections to natural disasters and God's judgment have to be looked at in the light of commonsense Cause and Effect. We can't be good, righteous, and Biblically smart enough to earn material happiness, love, health, wealth, and so on, and we also know that unrighteous sinners and God-haters can have material success. If I sin once, God doesn't send a hurricane or lightning bolt to blast me into oblivion, and if I do something charitable, He is under no obligation to send me a check for any amount of money or "enlarge my borders." There is no cause-and-effect relationship between my individual behavior at one moment of time and what goes on in the universe.
We also have to consider the special and unique historical relationship that God has had with Israel. He directly entered the history of humankind at one place (for clarity), gave (demonstrated to) all humans enough information that we could know Him, and, as a consequence of the clarity and sufficiency of His revelation of Himself, we can accept its authority. The fourth pillar, necessity, is a consequence of our limited nature as members of His creation. I also have been considering how necessary it was for the Messiah to be fully human--to understand personally our limitations--and fully Divine, to rescue us from our obviously fallen condition. But, He did all this unambiguously through one group of people--Israel, not the U.S., not Europe or Western Civilization.
We understand the choice between Life and Death, between (a) accepting God and His view of us and (b) rejecting God. We have natural revelation, common grace, and lots of concepts that are easily inferred from Scripture. But, it is flat out incorrect to assume that every action has an immediate response--that's more like Karma, and not the what Jesus taught. This is a consistent them from Genesis through Revelation. We reap what we sow, but the fruit of our lives takes time to develop, and no one will have an excuse before the Living God. How else can the Creator, Designer, and Judge of the universe be fair? He calls us to repent and turn to Him, not to try harder to earn blessings by following inanimate laws. And, it doesn't matter at all if it is a respected Christian who makes the sets of laws--laws are laws, and to serve the Law moves the Lawmaker out of the picture.
We all know that the Sermon on the Mount teaches us that we are responsible for our individual behaviors, foremost to God. (We could discuss corporate and/or national behaviors, but that is qualitatively and quantitatively a very different issue.) It also specifically tells us to avoid elevating ourselves to the position of Judges--not that we are to ignore judgment in the sense of discretion, studying God's Word, and acquiring the mind of Christ, or knowing wrong from right, truth from lie, true and false. But, that mind is obviously more than interpretation of law, as Jesus' comments to the Pharisees emphasized again and again. As soon as we focus on the Law and behavior, we immediately turn our focus away from the point of the Law--to teach us that we are all condemned under its provisions. It leads us to the inescapable complement to the Law-God's mercy (Ex. 34:5-7). This is the character of God revealed to Moses, as the Lord allowed him to understand His glory.
This happened once, to one man representing one nation, Israel. I think it is a nasty kind of arrogance to think that somehow, America has earned God's blessings. It has obviously been for the Glory of God, not for the socioeconomic impact of the US, and as long as we are faithful in reaching out to a lost world--which includes everybody in the USA, we can expect God's providence: we won't have to worry about the evils of tomorrow, what we eat or where/how we live, and so on. But, the other side of that promise is that we can expect persecution. It's all part of the deal. If we aren't going against the obviously shallow and non-Biblical interpretations of "religious" cause-and-effect, we are going with the tide of the world's interpretations--just like those Islamicists who claim that [Hurricane] Katrina is a soldier of Allah.
We need to stand against this kind of mindless claptrap. Remember, the Qur'an states that Jesus did not die on a cross. (Holy men are not supposed to be murdered.) But, we know who killed the Prophets, and what happened to prophets like Stephen. In some sense, we are all to blame--and we all know it. Forgiveness, grace, and mercy are the keys, and if we judge ourselves, we don't need to worry about the severe Judgment of God.