Tornadoes in Dallas/Fort Worth “Job 37-38 Tornadoes and God’s Mercies”

Posted on April 4, 2012. Filed under: Daily Journey |

Daily Devotion for April 4th, 2012

The Day After the Massive Tornado Outbreak in Dallas-Ft. Worth

 

Where is God when tornadoes randomly, savagely, destroy lives?

 

Yesterday, April 3rd, 2012, was a history making and tragic day in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex as at least a dozen (12) tornadoes touched down causing widespread destruction but, miraculously, no fatalities. As super-cell after super-cell formed and moved rapidly through the area, people from Parker County in the west, to Rockwall in the east, had to take shelter. http://www.dallasnews.com/incoming/20120403-tornadoes-sweep-area-destroying-homes-and-cutting-power.ece  Scores of businesses and homes have been destroyed along with schools and nursing homes.

http://www.nbcdfw.com/video/#!/weather/stories/Raw-Video–Tornado-Tosses-Trucks/145994125

 

Granted, despite the large number of twisters that touched down, the amount of destruction is less than the tornados that hit places like Joplin, MOwhich killed well over a hundred people and was an F-4 class storm, or the F-5 tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma, and other surrounding towns in 1999 and killed over 40 people.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999_Oklahoma_tornado_outbreak . Nonetheless, look for the losses of this DFW storm to be well over a billion dollars as many communities that missed the tornadoes were pelted by tennis ball and baseball sized hail http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/incredible-pictures-of-the-tornadoes-near-dallas .

 

Having lived in Tornado Alley most of my life (Oklahomaand Texas) I have weathered many storms. The Cinco de Mayo storm of May 5th, 1995 was particularly interesting as it did not spawn any tornadoes, but did cut a 2 mile wide, 30 mile long, swath of destruction through the DFW Metroplex with hail. On that particular occasion we were at the church for a Friday night cookout and we all watched our cars and roofs get destroyed by tennis ball sized hail (we were fortunate because other places in that storm caught baseball and softball sized hail). And in 2000 I watched from the 5th floor of my parking garage at work as the F3 tornado went through my neighborhood (where it first touched down) and then downtownFort Worth destroying high rise office buildings in its path. Last year, my youngest son and his wife inFayetteville,NC, had their house almost totaled by a tornado (they hadn’t even lived there for a month when the tornado hit).

 

What can we say about God when destruction comes swiftly from storms such as these? In Job 37 Elihu says, “At this also my heart trembles and leaps out of its place. Keep listening to the thunder of his voice, and the rumbling that comes from his mouth. Under the whole heaven he lets it go, and his lightning to the corners of the earth….God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend…He loads the thick clouds with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them…Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen. The Almighty- we cannot find him; he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate. Therefore men fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”

 

The modern science of meteorology can accurately predict the weather and explain what happens and how, but meteorology cannot give purpose for the tragedies that accompany the weather. We are forced to accept that either the universe is impersonal, random, and purposeless, and that we are alone, OR we can believe the Bible and trust in a personal, all-powerful, loving and wise God who alone controls the weather.

 

To say that God controls the weather means that the weather is part of his greater plan for revealing himself and carrying out his will. There is not one raindrop, nor one gust of wind that is outside of God’s control. Sadly, because we are frail, sinful, creatures who are much more concerned about the here and now, we fail all too often to see God’s glory, righteousness and mercies in the storms. Unbelievers are not amused by Believers claiming that God is in control of the weather. Unbelievers will say that if God could have stopped the tornadoes, and thus stopped human suffering, but did not, then God either does not exist, OR God is not good. This argument presents the age old problem of the existence of God and the presence of evil, in particular the suffering of humans. The fancy theological term is theodicy or the justification of God.

 

The story of Job is of a man who was both incredibly wealthy and righteous. God boasted of Job’s faithfulness to Satan in chapter 1 and then allows Satan to test Job, including a tornado like storm that took the lives of all of his children. Job is basically wondering “why me?” and his friends have not been much help, some assuming that he must have secret sins for which he is being punished. Now, in chapter 37, Elihu points to God having his own purposes for the storms of life, and those purposes include correction, for his land, and for love.

 

Since we know that God is just and holy and man is sinful, we understand that God’s correction is necessary and his judgment is coming. But when tornados strike, they appear random; the just and the unjust enjoy the sunshine and gentle rain as well as experience the destruction of tornados. I would understand the Correction of God in the storms this way: any destructive event is instructive in the sovereignty of God and should cause us all to consider our sins, to repent and believe in Jesus. Life is short and precarious; we can all die in the next minute. Storms remind us of this and our proper response should be to turn to God in faith and ask for his salvation which is offered through Jesus alone.

 

In Job 38-40 God answers Job “out of the whirlwind (tornado) and said: Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?….Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?…Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?…Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” God basically puts Job (and us) in our humble place. We are not the Creator, He is.

 

We cannot accuse God of being unjust or uncaring when nature ruins our lives with hail and tornadoes because, in the final analysis, this is God’s universe and He is holy, holy, holy, and we are neither sovereign nor holy; in fact we are quite unholy on our own (and we all know that whether we like it or not). If we got only God’ justice, not a one of us would be left standing.

 

But Elihu mentioned God’s love being demonstrated in the storms of life, how does that work? When we realize how utterly helpless we are in the face of nature’s forces which God alone controls, then we become most open to properly fearing God and trusting in his beneficent love. Love is best proved in the midst of great suffering and doubt. The single biggest outpouring of God’s love was seen in Jesus’ death on the cross. God takes the worst sin of mankind, deicide, and uses it to overcome our guilt and shame and give us forgiveness and new life.

 

In this world we can lose everything, yet if we have Jesus, then we gain eternity. If we struggle through great pain, disappointment and loss, and cling to Christ in faith, trusting that He is the love of the Father given for us, in the end, we will understand what Elihu meant. Along the way, as we help our neighbors who have lost much, we can share that word of salvation as we help, and God’s love will, once again, be demonstrated in the tornado.

 

 

 

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