I just got off the phone with a friend discussing the horrific tornado that blew through Joplin, MO Sunday night. It only took minutes to flatten a six-mile stretch of land, destroying homes, businesses, a high school, and human beings.
The tornado also destroyed a patient wing of the St. John’s Regional Medical Center. Survivors are being transferred to other area hospitals.
Kelley Fritz, 45, of Joplin, rummaged through the remains of a storage building with her husband, Jimmy. They quickly realized they would never find the belongings they stored there. They had lost much of what was in their home after the tornado ripped away the roof. Their sons, ages 20 and 17, both Eagle Scouts, went outside after the storm.
“My sons had deceased children in their arms when they came back,” Fritz said. “My husband and I went out and saw two or three dead bodies on the ground.”
After learning of so much death and destruction, my friend asked me, “Why does this happen? I know everything happens for a reason, but I can’t understand how this is part of God’s plan.”
I don’t know why bad things happen.
I do know that God doesn’t exist to make our lives worry and hassle-free. He doesn’t exist to make us happy (whatever that means), keep us healthy, give us money, or prevent us from suffering.
God exists simply because He does. He’s the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the creator of all things. We exist because God created us.
When Job cried out to God asking him why, God gives him this answer:
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Roughly translated: “Who are you to question my motives?”
When tragedy strikes, when loved ones are lost and innocence is shattered, our hearts break and we silently (or loudly) scream, “WHY?”
Asking why is fruitless, because our limited knowledge of God’s universe can’t begin to comprehend His reasons. God did not let this happen or make this happen in the way that we think of things happening. Just as God does not exist to make us happy, He doesn’t exist to torment us either.
Disasters happen. Life on Earth ends. This life is a blink, and right now at this very second, God knows exactly when and how your time here will end. That doesn’t make Him mean or vengeful; it just makes Him God.
We can’t possibly understand the plans God has for us. Why would He strike a little girl blind and deaf? Because He knew how many lives Helen Keller would touch (get it? Sorry, couldn’t help myself). Why would He allow a boy’s brothers to sell him into slavery? Because without Joseph in Egypt, God’s promise to Abraham couldn’t be fulfilled, as his descendants would’ve starved to death.
He knows what He’s doing, even if we don’t. I don’t know why bad things happen, but I trust that the Lord has a plan, that he will bring triumph from tragedy, and that ultimately, I know that no matter what happens on this planet, He holds me in His hand, because I am His.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t cry or rage with grief.
I am only human.