Tornadoes are common in our area of the country. We tend to expect them in the spring, but the devastation they leave is never something we grow accustomed to. As I write this post, the death toll continues to climb as the storm that hit us is rolling on to neighboring states. My heart is heavy as I pray for a family who has lost a father, a wife struggling with not only the loss of her mate, but two daughters as well.
Within a matter of moments their world was completely rocked.
How do we process this kind of devastation?
Where does God fit into this picture?
How do we reconcile God’s goodness and power when faced with such horrific tragedy?
All of Creation Groans
Watching the scenes from the storm’s aftermath, I can’t help but be reminded of how creation is groaning under the effects of the Fall. We are all groaning under a weight we were never made to bear. We are living in foreign territory. We are strangers here in this world of sorrow and corruption.
[box]For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:22–23)[/box]
We are all hurting, groaning, decaying, due to our precipitous fall; our disrobing of glory; our entrance into the death journey. We will all leave this life—some suddenly and without warning, others will depart through a long and painful season of suffering, some will go quietly at an old age, some leave us while still in the womb. It’s easy to grow numb to the reality of our mortality until death invades. When we witness, or are affected by large-scale destruction, the shock penetrates our haze of believing that “things will always be the same.”
But, where is God?
He is here. He is walking among us in our grief and pain. I’ve heard testimonies daily from individuals directly impacted by the storms, some lost their homes, friends, even family members, but one after another testify to God’s comforting presence.
One is taken and another left, and the loss seems senseless. But God is never capricious. As one woman voiced, standing among the rubble of what was once her home, “I know God has a purpose in this.” She shared how she prayed Psalm 91 over her children as they clutched one another with the storm swirling around them. They were protected, while a few miles away, another family prayed and clung to one another, but 3 of them were taken.
Churches, businesses, and homes were leveled and topography was ripped and contorted into an unrecognizable landscape. The rubble is a visible reminder of our finite nature and how very small we actually are in the whole scheme of things. God is God and we are not. He brings the wind, the rain, and He holds our earth in its orbit. He graciously waters our crops and provides sun for growth. And at times, He brings storms, and they have purpose as well.
For the Christian, there is a foundational “safe place” during storms like this. We rest in the shelter of God’s sovereignty and God’s goodness. We can’t see or understand His purpose when we walk through the aftermath of devastation, but we know His character and if we have a history with Him, His track record is enough.
God is our refuge and strength, a very presenthelp in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth.
[box]“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
(Psalm 46:1–3, 8, 10–11)[/box]
Three days before our state was rocked by devastating storms, I posted a message expressing what I want you to know if I should die suddenly. For those who lost their lives this week, but know Christ, I think if they’d had the opportunity, they might’ve told you something similar to what I shared here.
During challenging seasons, we have the greatest opportunity to display a steadfast trust in our faithful God to a world that doesn’t know Him.
How will you present God to others when you are walking through tragedy?