We have seen quite a bit come our way over the past week or so. There have been massive floods, deadly tornados, and even wide-spread predictions for Christ’s return. It has been difficult, to say the least, to see and hear of all the destruction taking place across our planet and now recently in our own country. Japan is still reeling from their monster earthquake and resulting nuclear tragedy, and now we are experiencing terrible weather incidents at home. Flooding has in daunted many areas along the Mississippi, and across the South tornados have cut paths of destruction, from Tuscaloosa to most recently, Joplin. I recently saw an interactive picture that the New York Times posted showing before and after pictures of Joplin from the sky. The content of the website tears at your heart, to scroll across a picture and see what was once a city reduced to parking lots and debris; knowing all along that this was home to many people, and that many people lost their lives. It also makes one think and wonder “Why?”
Where is God in the midst of all this? Did God cause the tornado that tore through Joplin, the earthquake that put Japan to its knees? Why them? It is easier to understand and even make peace with the results of evil perpetrated by humans. We have someone to point the finger at and blame, to call to account for what happened. But when the force of destruction is the earth itself, who is there to call to account for hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, floods, and droughts? As people of faith, it is only natural that our thoughts should turn to God the creator. After all can not God still the storm?
It is difficult, to say the least to know how God thinks and what God thinks. After all, we are not God. So does God point a finger at Joplin and send a mile-wide tornado through? I tend to think not. It is easy to loose sight of the fact that the earth is very much alive. The earth moves and changes, there is an ebb and flow to life and the processes of earth, and we as residents of the earth are along for the ride. Massive storms build, and forces of destruction tear their way through, but at the same time the
storms bring much needed rain to the land. It is a blessing, but also one that we must be cautious of. After all, the forces of the planet cut the Grand Canyon, uplifted the Himalayas, and gave shape to the earth as we know it. What are our houses of sticks and stones in comparison?
None of us will find a perfect existence upon the earth. We will have heartache, we will experience loss and tragedy, but we also have the opportunity to know love and choose the path of our lives, and to find God and know God in our lives. The hard times will come, it is a part of living our mortal lives. The earth will continue its cycles. It will storm and earthquakes will happen. Their existence doesn’t mean God is angry or that God is absent. If the storms never came and the earthquakes ceased, it would mean our planet was dying, and with it would go all life.
The important thing to keep sight of is how we live our lives. How do we allow God to act in us and through us to make the world better? Do we help those who have been hurt, even if all we can do is offer a prayer? Do we allow adversity to overcome us? Or do we make our way through the “valley of the shadow of death” with God as our shepherd and stand stronger than before the trials came?
For those interested in taking a look at the aerial photos of Joplin, before and after the recent tornado: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/05/25/us/joplin-aerial.html