My family and I were finishing up a birthday meal at a Raleigh, NC restaurant on April 16th when the manager came to our table in order to inform us that the tornado pictured above was on the ground near the restaurant. We were kindly told that we might be asked to move to a more secure room within the building if the massive, whirling cloud approached our building.
The ticking of the thin red hand of time seemed to slow incredibly; passing seconds seemed like minutes. I prayed silently as my wife comforted our weeping daughter. We were thankful to God that the violent cloud quickly by-passed our place in time. In avoiding our locale, however, the twister had proceeded to execute its wrath upon the lives of others to varying degrees. How mysteriously such storms selectively destroy life and property.
The mind of Christ knows that cataclysmic weather events like the April 16th NC Tornado Outbreak are divinely appointed times. Knowing how God executes such events exceeds our limited human capacity to understand the incomparable power of such a mighty and holy God. Our minds can only vainly speculate the reason why and how such things happen as they do.
The truth is that God alone understands the mysterious truth of such tragic situations. Self-righteousness and foolish pride might look at a devastated storm site and surmise that its residents were the worst of sinners. Religious arrogance might presume that it escaped unscathed because it believes the false paradigm that obedience always merits divine protection.
Jesus taught that it’s incorrect to believe that the tragic destruction of human lives is always the result of the worst of human sin. (Luke 13:1-5)
Unbelief will blame God amidst unexplainable tragedy and accuse him of heartless destruction. The redemptive heart of God lies hidden to the faithless heart when tribulation strikes. Faith will trust God’s goodness and purifying, redeeming love through life’s storms. Like Job, the righteous won’t sin and foolishly blame God for affliction, adversity and tribulation when they are tested by tribulation. (Job 1-2:10) Wisdom teaches that God comforts his own through tribulation so that they can grow to comfort others in the future and tribulation builds patience in the character of God’s people. (Romans 5; 2 Corinthians 1:4)
What I know for sure about the NC storms is that God is busy building patient and comforting character into the life of his people in NC through the events of 4/16/2011 so that they can help comfort others in future days of tragedy.
I also recognize that God’s people; his church, wasn’t removed from the state of NC prior to the time 12 super cell thunderstorms birthed 28 tornadoes in 33 counties, killing 24 people, injuring over 130 people. Twenty one businesses and 439 homes were destroyed. Ninety two businesses and 6,189 houses encountered significant damage. Hundreds of millions of dollars in damage have been realized. http://www.wral.com/weather/story/9485394/
These storms impacted the lives of both believers and unbelievers. Just as death selectively comes to both the saved and the unsaved through physical accident, murderous killing, the collateral damage of war, physical disease or illness; cataclysmic natural destruction selectively arrives affecting everyone near its path to varying degrees.
There are those who logically presuppose that the rapture of the church must occur before the wrath of God is poured out upon the earth. They fail to realize that the wrath of God that proof texts such as 1 Thessalonians 1:10 speak of could be the wrath of God directed at the disobedient, wicked, unsaved antichristian at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I’m by no means saying that an experience like going through an outbreak of tornados can be used to define theological doctrine. I will assert, however, that experiences like this can be used to illustrate biblical truth. I understand that this outbreak of tornados; which even included some golf ball size and larger hail, doesn’t compare with the extreme circumstances that the Day of the Lord judgments of Revelation 6-16 consist of.
In my opinion, however, days like April 16th, 2011 illustrate that God’s people can be left behind to endure extremely tragic and dangerous cataclysmic events. I believe days like 4/16/2011 teach God’s people that they aren’t exempt from having to endure fearful and tragic events. They could even become part of the collateral damage associated with such times and even the Day of the Lord.
In other words, any tragic loss and difficulty a member of the body of Christ endures doesn’t have to be directly intended to impact them, however, they were allowed to experience “collateral damage” because their omniscient God foreknew that experiencing the tribulation would help them become more like Jesus Christ. I believe that our perspective on what God will and will not allow his people to go through in this life is way too small because Americans have become far too soft.
For my family on April 16th, 2011, the effect of the storms upon us was the emotional pressure of being sandwiched between multiple tornados while prayerfully waiting upon God to protect us through the hour of distress that was selectively destroying things full circle around us.
My tornado birthday clearly punctuated my biblically based belief that God’s people are dead wrong to expect that God will not leave them on his earth through the cataclysmic natural destructions comprising the day of the Lord.
It further convinced me that the only wrath that God promises to keep us out of is the destruction of the wicked at his return and the final judgment of the lost.
Finally, it punctuated the moral truth to me that God alone can justify “collateral damage” and “humanitarian killing”! Neo-conservative professing Christians hear me out on this if you have ears to hear!
Unlike God who is accountable to no man, the U.S. military is accountable to American taxpayers being forced to fund their killing and to God who knows the whole truth about the lies used to justify murderous kinetic military action.
Who are proud Americans to presume that we are morally superior to other nations to such a degree that we can justify killing some lives in order to save many more lives? I’m not talking about the moral acceptability of capital punishment; the legal execution of a person who killed someone else under the knowledge of the law and its lethal consequences. I’m talking about killing people through military action who aren’t even resisting or fighting against the American Empire! I’m talking about killing non-combatant women, children and people satisfied to outside the American dream; people that desire the democracy that we are allegedly giving them; human beings wanting to live peaceful lives free from the economic rule set of the America/Babylon the Great.
God’s storm damage doesn’t require his explanation! Those that know him understand that nobody deserves his mercy. We know that everyone deserve God’s wrath. Isn’t God’s salvation a free and unmerited gift of his grace to those that trust the death, burial and resurrection of Christ on their behalf?
Unlike the powerful armed forces of the United States of America, when God mows NC with force, he does so in righteousness and truth. He executes his force with complete knowledge of the past, present and future of each life that is impacted by his power.
Knowing that God is always just and merciful we can be sure that whatever collateral storm damage like that which occurred in NC on 4/16/2011 is perfectly and righteously justifiable to him. The same can never be true of collateral damage resulting from kinetic U.S. military action.
Tragedies such as those that occurred on 4/16/2011 often appear unfair from our skewed earthly vantage point, however, who is man to argue with the power and wisdom of God?
The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nahum 1:3)
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest. (Revelation 15-4)