Shattered homes, shattered cities, shattered lives all across my state.
The devastation is too much to comprehend. The stories are too heartbreaking to be real. The horror is too close to push aside and change the subject.
We in Alabama know tornadoes. They are a grim part of living in the South. Many a night growing up, I was awakened in the wee hours of the morning by parents ushering me bleary-eyed to the basement, while the sirens blared. You learn to be smart, to be prayerful, and to be a bit stoic during the warnings. The west coast has their earthquakes, the coastlines have their hurricanes, we must contend with the beastly tornadoes.
But not like this. Never like this. There were 202 tornadoes confirmed in 14 states on April 27,2011, causing 316 fatalities, and the majority of the losses occurred in Alabama. More tornadoes in a single day than any other day in history. The monster that ravaged the area from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham cut a 200-mile trek through the state a mile wide, never letting up.
Somehow, people are trying to pick up the pieces. But picking up the pieces is incredibly daunting right now.
My loved ones were spared, but I know people who know people who were not. The degrees of separation are painfully close. There is a sense in which our communities here are spiderwebs, woven together with shared acquaintances and interstates and network news affiliates. When a fragile spiderweb gets a hole in its intricate, hard-woven design, the entire structure suffers. It only takes a second for a giant human being to walk through one of them. One minute, the web is there, draped across a tree branch. The next minute, you’re wearing it. Brushing it off your face.
Here in the South, something has just trampled through our web.
My children have questions. I told them that I have questions, too. My father said, rather profoundly, “Tornadoes go where they want to go.” The meteorologists do their best to track, to predict, to warn. Even so, there is no real way to determine why the storms hit one place and not another.
Isn’t it the same for the figurative storms of life? The ones that don’t tear a house to the ground, but that sweep in just as unpredictably?
I do not pretend to have easy answers to the why questions.
But if I did not hope in the Lord, I would have no hope at all. None.
“…With eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:21-22).
This world…all of creation…is literally groaning like a pregnant woman. Crying out for its redemption. It’s messed up right now. Look around, it’s indisputable. And mankind is just as messed up as the earth it inhabits. But there is a day coming…one that is bringing “glorious freedom from death and decay.”
Glorious freedom. No more tornado warning sirens. No more destruction. No more pain and tears. No more death. We will enter into that freedom through the Lord Jesus Christ, and so will the natural world.
God is going to set it all right on that day. I do not know how he’s going to do it, but I know for certain…that day is coming.
That’s not just what I believe, or simply what I am hoping for. It is a fact.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Please come.