On March 2, 2012, thirty-eight people in four states died from tornadoes. One report told of Teri Kleopferi of Chelsea, Indiana, who lost her husband’s aunt and uncle and their four year old grandchild. Fighting back tears she said the homes and other possessions lost were “just things.” She said “I tried to gather my thoughts…about the family. It’s been hard. We can’t replace them.” You can hear her heart break in her words.
This homeland tragedy, like the tsunami that struck Japan last year and the earthquake that rocked Haiti the year before, leave people of faith asking a simple question; why?
Pat Robertson, who said the earthquake that hit Haiti was God’s judgment, now says God was not responsible for the tornadoes that killed so many. He was quick to infer the victims were to blame for living in an area prone to tornadoes and for not having enough faith to pray the tornadoes away. I do not like to criticize Pat Robertson because his ministry has given birth to such charities as Operation Blessing International providing humanitarian aid to people in need around the world. But his willy-nilly statements regarding a number of recent issues do not serve biblical truth well. His misstatements run the risk of making him irrelevant.
Bestselling author John Piper said “Jesus rules the wind. The tornadoes were His.” His perspective is that of the Calvinist who is quick to emphasize the sovereignty of God which seems to bespeak an indifferent attitude to the human suffering in the midst of these recent disasters.
I know it can get confusing. One preacher says God is not responsible for these tornadoes and another says He is. This is why I urge believers to read their Bibles. When Christians read and discover the truth for themselves it brings a faith and peace to the human heart that the conflicting views of others will never be able to accomplish.
It seems clear to me that the disobedience of Adam and Eve introduced an evil that was universal in scope. I do not know, and the Bible has not given us any specific details of what Eden was like before the Fall, but I believe it was a very different kind of place than what the world is today. Their fall ushered in a fallen world. Our first parents desired to know good and evil, and evil cannot be understood with the intellect alone, it must be experienced to fully know it. Ergo, God has allowed each successive generation to experience the reality of a fallen world to remind us afresh of the folly of not trusting what He has said.
Mankind is a forgetful lot. We sometimes grow comfortable and think this is our home, when the truth is we are just passing through. Both believer and unbeliever are here temporarily. We live in a world with an enemy hostile to our presence, where our existence can be obliterated suddenly and without warning. There is not a moment here when we are safe and secure in the purely natural sense.
Paul has assured us “that neither, death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).” True security is found in Christ alone; to seek security elsewhere is foolish.
What should be the Christian response to these tragedies? We should support the relief efforts. We should take comfort in knowing what happened did not escape God’s notice and He was there in the midst of the storm. He is infinitely concerned with each one that was spared and each one that was lost. We can rest on the truth that the Judge of the whole earth did what was right in each individual case. Amid the chaos God was still in control. Death is only tragic if you believe it is the end of life, for the believer death is merely the doorway to heaven.
I believe in the sovereignty of God. The recent catastrophes do not lead me to think God has lost His grip on the universe. These events serve to remind me of where I am at, how I should be living my life, and where I am going. They should be a reminder to us all that life is short and death is certain. They should serve as a reminder, lest we forget.