Can and good come from disaster?

Saturday, January 21, an EF3 tornado touched down and ripped through the Pine Belt region. The next day MEMA reported that a total of 60 people were injured. Across the four affected counties, 480 homes were damaged or destroyed. There were four deaths. Those who passed were all residents of Forest County and ranged in age from 20 to 72 years old. The historic William Carey University received a direct hit and sustained damage to every building on the campus.

 

Our church sent supplies to the area, and I had the opportunity to see the aftermath of the twister first hand. I have never seen such devastation in all my life. The neighborhood that I visited looked like a war zone.  The smell of rotting meat, chainsaw exhaust, burning diesel fuel, and busted wood combined together in what I can only describe as an olfactory assault. 

 

I cannot help but wonder what the storm victims must think about God.  There is no way around the question – “Why?” Why would God either allow or ordain such destruction? Was this a part of His plan? Is there a God at all? Those are valid questions, but first, I think it would be proper to look at the good that comes from natural disasters like this.

 

  1. Natural disasters keep us mindful of the power of God.

 

This is a reminder that we need in these last days. Human beings are a force to be reckoned with, no doubt, but God is infinitely awesome in His might. The wind, the weather, and the planets are all under His authority. When a natural disaster takes place, we see that power on display like the Israelites at Mount Sinai. This moves us to a greater respect and a healthy fear for Him.

 

  1. Natural disasters keep us reminded of our own vulnerability.

 

Good people were injured and died as a result of the storm. Hard working Christian folks had their property destroyed. They were brought to their knees. This reminds us that no one is deserving of God’s grace. Jesus taught His followers that they were as vulnerable to sudden death as the 18 good people that were killed when the tower fell in Siloam (Luke 13:1-5). Natural disasters, like the one that took place in the Pine Belt, remind us to always be ready because no one makes it off this planet alive and unscathed by the consequences of humanity’s sin.

 

  1. Natural disasters pull the community together for recovery.

 

This is the one that most people think of when they think of good coming from tragedy, and it is a proper thought. It is amazing how the walls come down in times of tragedy. People of all races and creeds come together to support those who have been adversely impacted. Differences are set aside, if only for a time, and some communities experience permanent healing as a result of their coming together as one family. In this way, a tragedy that causes so much destruction has the potential to bring healing and life back into a community that was once fractured over petty differences.

 

  1. Natural disasters provide an opportunity for the church to be the body of Christ. 

 

Last week, Baptists, Methodists, Independent, Non-denominational, Presbyterians, Pentecostal, Church of God, and every kind of Christian church you could think of came together as one. They loved on the victims. They gave generously to provide supplies. They ran chainsaws and put tarps on roofs. They came together as one body to make sure that no victim of the storm had to bear their burden alone. This was Jesus working in and through them. This was Jesus demonstrating his love for the afflicted, the poor in spirit, and the broken hearted. In this way, the storm provided am invaluable opportunity for the church to be the church.

 

While we cannot deny the pain and destruction that God allowed on January 21st, we also cannot deny the good that precipitated out of the destruction. I invite you to give thanks with me in this difficult time. Be thankful for the reminder of God’s power and our vulnerability. Give thanks for the way God brought the community together. Give thanks for the awesome opportunity that He has given us as Christians to love the least of these.