O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!
(A couplet from The Wind by Robert Louis Stevenson)
My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by these recent bouts of storms; especially in Moore, OK.
The song this wind sang was a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking one. How it must have seemed, to those who survived it, to have lasted all day long. This was a song sung in fury, with tones deep and heavy. It was, indeed, a loud song. Its echoes are still being heard and will continue to be heard for years to come. It was an orchestra of devastation, of destruction, violence, and death.
It is during such times of calamity and heartbreak that questions arise that challenge faith and belief. If God is good and all-powerful, how could he allow such a horrific thing as this to happen? If God is sovereign, why did he not stop this from happening?
These are real questions. These are hard questions.
Some will offer simple platitudes and half-thought-through elucidations. They will advise with simple explanations and counsel with easy answers.
I have never trusted easy answers. I know that easy answers are not always wrong; but, I must test them several times over to ensure they are right before accepting them.
In matters such as these, however, the easy answers are hardly (if ever) the right ones.
I remember one of my students asking if there would be any hard questions on the exam. I simply replied, a bit facetiously, “No, the questions will be simple enough; but, the answers may be more challenging.”
In fact, that is what we have here. The questions come quick and easy. The answers, however, are a bit more challenging.
Again, I distrust easy answers. This is the main reason I rejected atheism, after living about two years of my life as a practical atheist: its answers, for me, were too easy.
I do believe God is sovereign. I do believe God is benevolent. I do believe God is omnipotent.
Do I believe God could have stopped this tragedy from happening? Yes. Do I believe God could have saved those children and adults who lost their lives in Moore, OK? Yes. Do I believe God is less today for not doing so? No.
I believe this world is in a fallen state. I believe this fallen-ness not only impacts us spiritually, but physically as well. I believe this world is awaiting its redemption; until then, it is groaning in anticipation.
Simply put, bad and horrific things happen to good people. Tornadoes fall from the sky, touch down on a spot of earth and proceed to devour a community and blow its hopes and dreams to kingdom come. All sorts of disasters and pestilences and the like happen all too frequently.
That is the world in which we live. Could God prevent it? Yes. Does he usually do so? The answer would seem to be no. (Although, I would add he may prevent more than we will ever know.) But, it does seem, based on life and experience, these things happen because that’s the way the world operates in its present form.
Until the day of redemption, such sad happenings will continue to be a part of our narrative. The pain will continue. But, the hope given to us in Christ, tells us it will not always be so. One day things like tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, starvation, diseases, senseless violence, and the like will be brought to an end.
Until that day, we must pray for those affected. We must lend our hearts and our hands to them. We must count each day as precious. We must, while there is still time, be grateful and thankful for the blessings God has given. Blessings like: family, children, homes, communities, safety, mundane days, running water, electricity, a warm bed.
During such times, after such tragedy, giving any answer is probably premature. There is a time for answers and there is a time for action. I remember after 9/11, someone asked on a panel, “Where was God?” A pastor passionately replied, (paraphrasing), “He was there in the first-responders. He was there in the firefighters who ran into the towers to rescue people. He was in the hugs and tears and prayers at ground zero.”
Again, for those today who find themselves without homes, or especially without loved ones, my heart and my prayers go out to them.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16.33)