Sunday afternoon, tornadoes and fierce winds traversed the lower midwest, including parts of Oklahoma and Texas. And Monday afternoon, the devastation continued in Moore, OK when a school was directly in the line of the storm and was leveled by what is now known to be an EF-5 tornado. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the lingo of tornadoes, an EF-5 means that sustained winds in excess of 200 mph were present and this surpasses the Level 5 hurricanes which have winds of approximately 157 mph. Reports surfaced from the site of the damage that indicated the tornado was more than 1 mile wide and this is what made the devastation so remarkable. Of course, we also know that an elementary school was at ground zero – at the heart of the tornado and scores of children as well as older folks were either hurt or killed in the disaster.
When I was a youngster, a restaurant that we visited quite frequently was leveled by a tornado. I remember Melody Lane with fondness. We ate there almost weekly and then, suddenly, it was gone. It was probably my first real brush with the forces of nature and how damaging wind can be. Years later, there was another tornado in Oak Lawn, a suburb to the west of us, that also sustained heavy damage as winds came in from the west and caused significant damage to the community. Thankfully, neither of these storms negatively impacted anyone we knew.
For a number of years now, our youngest daughter, Jill, and her family have lived in western Oklahoma. While I readily admit that the sky is absolutely breathtaking, and the cloud formations more beautiful that you have ever seen, I don’t think that I would want to live in an area that is so prone to severe storms. I have been in Oklahoma when the weather rolls in and it happens – fast! Whether it is rain, or hail, or wind, it all happens in central Oklahoma. This afternoon, Jill let me know that they were under another tornado watch and less than several miles from her home, 3-1/2″ hail was coming down. That’s like the size of baseballs – or larger! That kind of hail could easily kill someone.
I have also seen severe weather in Texas, primarily in the Dallas area, but most of my flight delays have been due to the runways flooding, not wind damage to the area. And God knows that this time of year is the worst for weather in OK and TX. The weather gets so bad where Jill lives that they actually have an underground tornado shelter. You have to go out in the back yard to access it, but it is a concrete bunker that protects the family in the event of really bad weather. I guess that it is common place for people in their area to have this kind of protection, but I have never been exposed to that before. Of course, to offset the risks of living in Oklahoma, I must admit that the scenes of nature and the sunrises and sunsets, as well as the cloud formations, are some of the most beautiful that I have ever seen. I can always tell when I am about to be “wowed” by God.
One of the questions that I am always asked when weather devastates an area is why God would let something like this happen. And the simple answer is, “I don’t know…” That’s right – I can’t tell you why weather destroys property or why people get injured – or killed. No more than I can tell you why God allows cancer, or dementia, or murder, or rape, or any other illness or crime that offends our sensibilities of a fair and just God. There are those who believe that God is evil and that He derives some weird sense of absolute control when people get hurt or die. I can say with all certainty that I have never had that idea about God and His people – at all.
Some folks on the other side of the coin submit that everyone will end up in heaven because a just and loving God would never condemn people to live eternally in hell. Like I said above, I have never seen any evidence to support this position either. One thing is for sure – crises either bring you closer to the Father, or drive you further from Him. You are never the same, though, after an event as you were before.
So what are we supposed to make of all this? Paul, the author of Romans, arguably the most intense theological book in the entire Bible, tells us in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” In other words, even though we may not know why something happens, God is still on the throne and we can be assured that there is a plan, bigger than we know, that encompasses the goodness and mercy of the Trinity.
My encouragement this evening is to make sure that you realize that even though you may have suffered adversity, and you maybe even think that God has abandoned you, that is not the case! My prayer is that through the trials and tribulations you face throughout your life, you will be drawn closer to God and that you will not reject Him. And someday, we may even find out what God was thinking, on that day when we meet him face to face. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…