Tornadoes are common in our area of the country. We tend to expect them in the spring, but this year we were surprised by winter’s devastating storms. According to the severe weather experts, 2015 was the deadliest December for tornadoes in the U.S. since 1953. Tornadoes and flooding hammered the South and Midwest on six consecutive days from December 23 to the 28th. Death and destruction characterized the Christmas season for many in the South. I had a dear friend send me a text as she was taking cover in a Walmart in Mississippi while a tornado passed overhead, they were safe, but others in our area lost their lives.
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 creation’s groans because of the effects of the Fall. We are groaning under a weight we were never made to bear. We live in foreign territory. We weren’t made for a 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 slip out quietly in sunset years, some leave us while still in the womb. It’s easy to grow numb to the reality of our mortality until death invades. And when you witness large-scale destruction, it clears away the 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. Those who cling to the truth of the resurrection testify to God’s immediate and comforting presence.
One is taken and another left, and the loss seems senseless. But God is never capricious.
When homes are leveled, topography ripped and contorted into an unrecognizable landscape, it 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.
[box]God is our refuge and strength, a very present help 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.
“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]
During the devastation, 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?
Image courtesy of George Stojkovic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net