‘Our Building Is Not the Church. We Are’—The Faith Stories Coming Out of Friday’s Devastating Tornado Damage

"After an unprecedented swarm of tornadoes caused widespread devastation Friday, residents of hard-hit areas gathered Sunday to worship God, offer encouragement, and help meet needs. More than 50 twisters—including one with a 200-mile path—caused significant tornado damage in eight states." - C.Leaders

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Simply Evil

That this was an assault upon our society, whatever its ostensible capitalist and militarist “targets,” was again thought too obvious a point for a clever person to make. It became increasingly obvious, though, with every successive nihilistic attack on London, Madrid, Istanbul, Baghdad, and Bali. There was always some “intellectual,” however, to argue in each case that the policy of Tony Blair, or George Bush, or the Spanish government, was the “root cause” of the broad-daylight slaughter of civilians. Responsibility, somehow, never lay squarely with the perpetrators.

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From Japan to Joplin

quoteReprinted with permission from As I See It. AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com

What is the Biblical Perspective on “Natural Disasters”?

Earlier this year, the massive loss of life and utter devastation to property that afflicted northern Japan as a consequence of a massive earthquake and tsunami were appalling by their massiveness. In subsequent weeks and months, a series of property-destroying and death-dealing tornadoes repeatedly afflicted the heartland of America, most recently in Joplin, Missouri. While the death and destruction in Japan were much more extensive than all the storms collectively in America, the much closer proximity of these American storms to us in south central Kansas, particularly the tornado in Joplin (a city just three-plus hours away by car , and one we have driven through dozens of times), gives them a much greater immediacy. What did happen there could easily happen here.

The prominence of such tragedies in recent news raises a serious question: Why? What cause was behind these disasters? Can a direct line from cause to effect be traced? What was God’s divine purpose in all this?

The natural reaction

The first and natural (and usually wrong) impulse is to say, “It must have been deserved. Something these people did brought this on themselves.” That was the theory of Job’s friends in trying to reason through the cause of his multiplied calamities. That was the speculation of Jesus’ disciples, too, when they saw the man born blind in John 9. Surely his parents or he himself committed some specific sin (which in the case of the man himself assumes divine foreknowledge of a future heinous sin and a preemptive strike, of sorts, by God).

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Disasters, Calamities and Evil in the World: Is God Asleep at the Switch?

Japan Burial

I preached a sermon recently about why God allows disaster, and that sermon is the basis for this article. I present this to my Sharper Iron brothers and sisters knowing that many of you are far more learned than I, particularly in the realms of philosophy and apologetics. I do not claim to be in the same league as C.S. Lewis or other great thinkers. So I encourage you to enjoy this article for what it is, a relatively simple (but practical) explanation of disaster, tragedy, and evil in the world based upon key Scriptures.

As a pastor, one of my most challenging responsibilities is to comfort the grieving. People can suffer in horrific ways. But one need not be a pastor to observe or experience these sad realities: life has a way of educating us all.

The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan killed thousands and left multitudes in utter despair. Many of us are praying for the survivors and contributing toward relief to this once great nation now in shambles.

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