I don't know if it's just me, but it seems like the natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more intense as I get older. For myself, it is very difficult to understand what people are going through without physical contact with the issue. Pictures don't usually shake me to my core like standing in the middle of a devastated city. I want to be compassionate and heartbroken, but somehow my brain doesn't make that connection. Maybe that has to do with my tendency towards idealism. Regardless, the earthquake in Japan and the tornado in Tuscaloosa just didn't quite make me soft.
This time...it hit a little closer to home for me. In a city that I once occupied for about six months of my life, a tornado ruined what I used to know. Pictures of familiar places that I went to show buildings that I barely recognize. A list of people that are dear to me who live in that very city sits by my side. Fortunately...all safe for the moment. My heart is finally broken and cares a little bit more about this one than the previous others. I realize how terrible that sounds and if that makes me a horrible person, then I guess I'll have to work on that. Regardless, that is how I feel.
It's in moments like these that many, including myself, question the character of God. The most common being, "How can a God of goodness and love allow/cause something so terrible to happen to His children?" I don't even want to touch that question...but I do have an observation. If something as simple as a cloud combined with the right amount of wind and whatever other variables (I'm no scientist) can produce such devastation, then how much GREATER and more POWERFUL is my God? At one word He could call the winds to obedience. He can command the earthquake to end...the wind to cease...the water to recede...the earth to be calm and still...yet how much harder is it for Him to refrain and watch His children hurting?
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Who understands this verse best? Not me! I am not blessed in that sense, and I have no comprehension of what that would feel like. Those of us who sit at home, safe, healthy, and owners of anything...we don't truly get it. Even greater are the hearts of those who are hurting. They literally have nothing left. Do they still find hope? With nothing left, the one place most will turn is to God. They truly get it and get Him...not us!
In my struggle and heartache in response to this tornado, all I want is to be in Joplin with my friends. I want to work hard, get sweaty, and join in cleaning up and rebuilding the city. Where there is great chaos, there is potential for even greater restoration. The best part of it all is that God is the one who can redeem and restore all. It's a clean slate...a chance to start fresh. What Satan intended for evil, God can use for good. There is always hope and I am so thankful that those who truly have nothing can hold to that hope.
Stay strong Joplin! You will recover and great things will come to your city!