Like millions of others around the country, I sat stunned and heartbroken, with a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach, as I watched in horror the media coverage of the devastation left in the wake of the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma on Monday. As people emerged, and stories of heartbreak and praise began to surface, I became mesmerized with the news.
I found myself praying for the children who were rescued from the schools, and shedding tears for the parents of those who didn’t. My heart ached for those who lost loved ones, and broke for the hundreds of people who lost everything they owned. My spirit was lifted with each encouraging story of survival.
In the midst of all these emotions, I found myself questioning yet again, “why?” I believe to the depths of my soul that God either causes or allows all things to occur, because if scripture says that is true, then I do not doubt it. However, I confess it’s so hard to wrap my mind around anything good coming out of such tragedy, and I find it difficult to focus on purpose, when pain is overwhelming. And the reality is, that when faced with devastating personal tragedy, this truth from scripture cannot fully offer encouragement or comfort – even for followers of Christ who believe very Word in the bible is God breathed.
I know God does have a divine purpose for each family who is suffering, but it will take a long time for that purpose to become visible and known. It will take weeks, months and maybe years of healing to reach a place where purpose can be seen with great clarity, or where at least a little glimpse of purpose can be seen.
As I juggled my human thoughts and emotions against what I know to be true in scripture, I asked God to help me see Him in all of this. We can’t expect a sovereign God to explain Himself, but we can expect Him to show Himself. If we ask, we will see.
So rather than doubting God about this horrific tragedy in Oklahoma and trying to make sense of it, I began to look closely for Him in the midst of the rubble. Not physically, but spiritually. And with each new news clip I watched, and article I read, He became more and more visible.
It seemed that each person who stepped in front of the camera was a little flicker of light for Jesus. A light that could have been snuffed out with the tornado, but instead shone brighter than ever.
Story after story highlighted tales of survival, perseverance, gratefulness, and awe. Stories of people risking their lives to save others. Countless people expressed how they not only felt thankful to be alive, but gave thanks to God for protecting them, and even their pets. Men, women, and children of various ages stood in front of the cameras talking about the power of prayer, and the humility felt from seeing those prayers answered.
Each person interviewed stood against a backdrop of rubble, but as their words and tears flowed, I saw God rising up from the dust. I caught a teeny, tiny, minuscule glimpse of potential purpose for all this pain. He was being glorified, exposed, thanked and praised by the exact people who would have been justified in cursing His name for allowing such catastrophic destruction to hit their families and interrupt their lives.
They weren’t supposed to be thanking God according to the world’s standards. Non-believers probably think they’re crazy for doing so, and our enemy probably didn’t expect them to do that either. He would have liked nothing more than these hurting people to finally turn their backs on God, but instead, they turned towards Him. And gave Him praise.
Then I watched Rhonda Crosswhite be interviewed about the heroic actions she carried out when shielding children from flying rubble with her own body, as many brave and loving teachers also did. But Rhonda, like others, not only covered them physically, she covered them spiritually. Her prayers to God for divine intervention and protection did not go unanswered, and He supernaturally provided a bubble of protection over their little bodies.
But Rhonda wasn’t supposed to do that, and she even confessed so on camera. Teachers are not supposed to talk about God in public schools, much less pray out loud and boldly on the behalf of the children they are responsible for. But her innate belief in God compelled her to do it anyway. She stated in her interview that she never thought she was going to die, so she wasn’t merely praying out of fear. She is just one example of praying and trusting that God will come through. And He did.
I wonder what this world would be like if we all did what we weren’t supposed to do, just a little more often.
Pray out loud, when it’s been forbidden. Speak about the saving grace of Jesus, when it’s politically incorrect. Stand up for what’s right, when it will make us unpopular or judged. Boldly proclaim Christ at work, despite the risk of consequences. Serve Him with our lives, when we’d rather stay in our comfort zones. Be His hands and feet to those in need, instead of assuming someone else will. Praise God in the face of confusion, heartache, pain and tragedy, even when facing the worst of times.
None of us are immune to tragedy, and we never know if or when it might affect us personally. But we can always do what we are not supposed to do for Christ according to our modern, anti-Christian society. What the world says is pointless and futile. What non-believers say is a waste of time, and government says we should keep to ourselves.
We can live loudly for Christ – at home, work, school, and church. We can be a voice for Christ that nobody can shush.
We can believe in an invisible God, and expect to see Him in the rubble of our circumstances. We can choose to trust His ways, even when it appears He did not protect us from pain. And we can believe that in His perfect timing, we will one day understand His ways and see His purposes in living color.
Most importantly, we can glorify God’s name with confidence and boldness – and choose not to let the world tell us what we are supposed to do, think, feel or believe anymore.
I stand in great awe and admiration of the people of Oklahoma who have chosen to embrace God in their greatest time of need and to praise Him. Although I know that precious lives were lost, I can only trust that God still provided and protected, but in a way that we would have not chosen and cannot possibly understand, and my deepest prayers are with those who are mourning.
I trust you will join me in praying for everyone affected by this recent tragedy in Oklahoma. Pray for God to rise up in their lives in powerful supernatural ways so that instead of only feeling and seeing loss all around them, they will feel and see His omnipotent Love, and be filled with unexplainable comfort, hope and peace that surpasses all understanding.