• When Tornadoes Twist Our View of God


    Natural catastrophes like the F-5 tornado outside Oklahoma City and human atrocities such as the murder of the British soldier in London or shootings of school children in Connecticut shake us to the core.  We reel at the pain and horror of it all.  Our hearts break at the suffering shown us by the media.

    Our distress is exacerbated, though, when we factor God into the equation. Where was He when these things were transpiring?  What do these events say about God?

    Psalm 91 speaks of God being a shelter, a refuge and fortress.  He gives assurance that “He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence” (Ps. 91:3).  The snare of the fowler addresses what people can do to us (e.g., shootings). Deadly pestilence speaks to natural disaster, those things uncontrived by people (e.g., tornadoes).

    Really!  Then what happened in these horrific events that resulted in the loss of human life?  Where was God?

    All we can do is affirm with Scripture that God is sovereign (absolute, unaffected, abiding rule).  He is all-wise.  He is all-powerful.  He is all-good.  His perfect purposes govern all that comes to pass. And His ways are inscrutable to us.

    Our view of God cannot be formed through the lens of a fallen world with eyesight distorted by cataracts of pride.  We must understand Him as He wants us to understand Him.  We want to embrace God for who He is and ourselves for who we are.  That’s called operating in the fear of the Lord, the wellspring of wisdom. We want to believe God when He describes Himself as He does in Isaiah 45:7:

                I form light and create darkness,

                I make well-being and create calamity,

                I am the LORD, who does all these things.

    And we want to worship and trust Him for it.  We don’t want to be as those who think we know better than God and so bring Him under our judgment.  And we certainly don’t want to opt for a smaller God, lesser God, weaker God. That would be to fashion God in our image.  The fitted sheet of our limited minds cannot possibly stretch over the vastness of the glory of God to contain Him. The living and true God will not fit into our box.

    The Apostle Paul, when contemplating such things that could prompt rebellion, says this.

    Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:33-36

    Tragedy in this world should not stifle our prayer. It should amplify it.  We should raise our voice louder and with greater urgency in our need.  We should express to Him our longing for His promised relief in the age to come.  Our petitions should run along the lines of the hymn that celebrates His faithfulness: “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”

    And in the trenches of tragedy, we want to extend the comfort of Christ.  He offers a peace that the world does not know, a peace that guards hearts and minds, a peace that surpasses understanding.  That peace is found in His loving embrace against the woes of a fallen world He Himself endured.  In Christ, that peace reaches to the world to come where there will be no more tears or suffering or pain or tragedy or death—the ultimate comfort for those who have found refuge through faith in Christ.


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