Life Insights: Extreme Tornadoes
We have been blessed to have avoided the devastations of extreme weather, but not everyone has. Yesterday, May 20, 2013, 24 people died in Oklahoma as a mile wide tornado ripped through the suburbs of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We grieve with so many families who lost loved ones and their homes in this devastating tornado. There were 9 children who died in an elementary school that was reduced to rubble. Why did it happen?
Scientists have recorded an increase in heat, cold, droughts and floods.1 Some statistics indicate we are in a cycle, but looking at the last 100 years, there does seem to be an increase.
Some people try to blame God for not controlling the weather, especially when there is loss of life. When Jesus was walking on earth with the disciples, He showed His power over nature. Mark records for us,
37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.
38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. (Mark 4:37-39)
If Jesus could calm the storm during the time of His earthly walk, could He not control them now? The Psalmist records God’s ability to control the weather when he wrote, “He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. (Ps. 107:29) If God could control it, why does He let people die today?
We must remember: God is always good. He can never be less that perfectly righteous and just in character and in all His ways. Storms are a result of the fall of man and sin in the world. Moses recorded that when Israel sinned against God, God made the heavens like iron, “I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.” (Lev. 26:19) The root of all sin is pride, which is acting independently of God. When mankind acts independently of God, even when they are not God’s people like Israel in Leviticus 26, God backs away and allows man to experience what happens when God is not worshiped. No person deserves God’s grace. No person deserves God’s protective hand. Paul wrote,
10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”(Rom. 3:9-12)
When God preserves life that is grace. When He chooses not to preserve life, He is still sovereign, still good and still God. Many people struggle when children die. I do also. Yet, I know I can trust that God is never unjust. God is still sovereign and good. The child, if he or she had not reached the age of accountability is ushered into heaven. He or she never has to face the problems of life. Parents will join their child when they are promoted to heaven if they have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Does that reduce the anguish of losing a child or the lessen the grief of not being able to enjoy the child as he or she grows up? Unfortunately, the feelings will not be reduced, but the pain can lessen in time as trust is continually placed in God’s sovereign plan.
Some people ask the question, did they do something wrong? Were those who suffered more wicked or evil than those who survived? A similar question was asked of Jesus. Mark records that account,
1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?
3 “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
4 “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?
5“I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)
Neither the Galileans, who were looked down upon by the Israelites, nor those who died under the tower of Siloam were more wicked than others. We don’t need to determine personal sin in a devastating event. The issue is, when any devastation occurs, will we use it as a reminder to examine ourselves? Will we ensure we are totally dependent on the Lord and filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit? Will we look to the Lord and care for those who remain?