When my friend’s house was shaken so violently by an earthquake that every piece of china and glass she owned was shattered, the insurance company called it an “act of God” and denied her claim. But it was not an “act of God”. It was a natural phenomenon and it frustrates me when God is blamed for events like my friend’s disaster or the tornadoes of this past week that tore through areas not many miles from my home.
Tornadoes are part of the world we live in. They are caused by rapidly colliding streams of hot and cold air moving in different directions that, along with the updraft of the warm air and rotation of the earth, create funnel clouds. They are not the finger of God come down from heaven to randomly punish or wreak havoc among the inhabitants of His creation. They simply “are”. Like everything from autism to genetic mutations and droughts to tsunamis, tornadoes are blind with no control over or where they go or who they touch. Sometimes, it can be argued, we are to blame for these events and sometimes we are not. Sometimes we escape and sometimes we don’t.
Stuff happens…and, more often than not, I can’t explain it or see any good in it. It tests my faith and can, for periods of time, make it nearly impossible to remember and believe the promises of God. When life jumps up off the sidewalk and mugs me, stealing my dreams, taking away people I love and things I value, God can feel very far away. It is hard to see Him or anything good through the burning tears of a broken heart.
When people ask, “If God is kind, all-knowing and all powerful, why does He allow tornadoes to kill innocent people, people He calls His children, and change their lives forever?” I answer, “Why?… I do not know.” But this I do know:
Though I have not lived through the destruction of my home and the horror of my town being torn apart by a tornado, I have experienced other life-shattering events that have left me feeling as if I had been T-boned by an 18-wheeler and left alone in a ditch to bleed to death on the side of the road… But God has always been there to see me through.
You see, His promise was not to give me a “happily ever after” life while living here on earth with no unexpected, unpleasant and unplanned changes. His promise was, is, and forever will be – to stay with me, never walk off and leave me, and always love me… not matter what.*
Tornadoes may be blind, destructive forces of nature, but God is not. He sees me. He knows my pain. He is not deaf to my cries for help and His hand is not too short to reach me. He cares for me. He loves me with an everlasting love that never changes, regardless of my circumstances. And the same is true for you.
If your world has been torn apart by a tornado, actual or otherwise, please don’t shake your first at God or turn away from Him because you cannot comprehend the “why” of it all. If we demand He answers to us, or dismiss Him when we cannot see beyond our own pain, then we make him accountable in human terms and have no God. We may not always like it, but we must recognize and acknowledge that He is God and we are not. His ways are not our ways and many of the “whys” of this life may well remain holy mysteries this side of heaven.
I choose neither to blame nor be angry with God. Instead I choose to believe His promises are real and ask Him to help me, especially when I’m really hurting. Sometimes it is hard to do but, when I thank Him for giving me His Son, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit to comfort, cheer and guide me until my work here on earth is done, the unbearable becomes more bearable.
I pray you will do the same. Trust Him, even when there is no answer to your “Why?”
Remember: You are not alone and somebody cares about you.
* You can read the promise of God to never leave your or forsake you for yourself. It is in the Bible in the second half called New Testament in the part called Hebrews. Look for chapter 13 and read down through the verses, paying special attention to the verse numbered 5. People reference parts of the Bible in a kind of shorthand that looks like this: Hebrews 13:5. You can also find the same promise written twice in the first half of the book, Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 31: 6&8.