Living in central Oklahoma, I know first-hand the terror that comes when you hear the word “tornado.” People fear for their lives, and rightfully so. On Monday, knowing that tornadoes were likely, we had our children pack up the things most important to them, and we brought them along as we went and took cover in a storm shelter. Thankfully, the tornadoes went around and over our hometown without doing any damage to it. Others, however, were not so fortunate.
Seeing the images on television and hearing about the death and destruction that overwhelmed Moore and Bethel Acres cannot come close to describing the hurt and loss of the people who were directly affected by it. In the midst of the carnage, some people thanked God that they were spared. A few days have gone by, and the question on some people’s hearts is:
Why did God allow this to happen?
I do not claim to know all the answers, but I do know that all things work together for good to them that love God (Romans 8:28). And with this thought at the forefront of my mind, I offer the following thoughts for why God allowed the tornadoes to rip through central Oklahoma this week.
1. To wake people up to their spiritual needs. When tornadoes hit, people begin to think more about their spiritual life. What will happen if I die? It is often after the death of a loved one or a brush with death that people will begin to see their mortality and hopefully look at where they are headed spiritually speaking.
2. To wake up the church. One of the biggest problems in the church is spiritual sleepiness. In most congregations, it is like pulling teeth to get certain members involved. In some congregations, the entire body is in a spiritual coma, doing nothing for the Lord except for showing up for worship. When something like these tornadoes happen, it serves to shock the church members into looking at their own lives and realizing that they have not been living out their Christianity like they should. Now it is high time to awake! (Romans 13:11).
3. To give the church a chance to shine. There was once a man who was blind from birth. That—to me—would be horrible. But Jesus said that man spent his entire life blind so that the works of God could be plainly seen (John 9:3). Things that we consider bad are sometimes allowed to happen so that God’s people can show the works of God. After the tornadoes, churches of Christ opened their doors to give victims places to stay, places to eat a hot meal, places to find clothing. Churches of Christ from across the state have been trying to assist with the clean-up and with taking care of those who are still without homes. The church has been given a fantastic opportunity to show what Christianity is all about. Do good unto all (Galatians 6:10). Let’s take full advantage of this door that God has opened for us.
4. To give the church an opportunity to grow. Christians who do the work of God will also grow spiritually. They will become stronger, more caring Christians. The tornadoes have given Christians an opportunity to grow spiritually. But this is also an opportunity to help the church grow in number. When people see that you truly care, they will be more open to listening to the gospel. There are hundreds of people who are hurting, who are feeling their mortality, and who may be seriously considering the question of Where would I go if I died? Now is the time to show them you care for their physical needs, but also their spiritual needs. People may be more open to the gospel of Jesus Christ now than at any other time in their entire lives. Let us work to save them while we have the chance!
Lord, let us learn to use the opportunities that we have to do good unto all men—both physically and spiritually—so that we can bring glory to you.