For we know the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now… ~ Romans 8:22
Oklahoma is sort of a “stomping grounds” for me. Though I was born, raised, and presently live in Missouri, I graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2003 with a degree in Meteorology. People see me going around all over the place with an OU hat and they immediately think, “Football.” Yes, that’s part of it, but before I became a student there I didn’t grow up with an affinity for a crimson-clad football team. For me it was all about the weather.
I have had a passion for the weather since I was a child, and ultimately by leading me to OU because of weather and to a wonderful discipleship-focused church and Baptist Student Union, God also led me to become a pastor.
Oklahoma forever has a place in my heart.
Yesterday I was down in Oklahoma doing one of the things I love—chasing storms. It is not a hobby that should be embraced by just anyone wanting to get good footage for Youtube or the Weather Channel. Storm chasing is more about safety than it is about a picture or a thrill.
I was north of Tulsa watching a large tornado glide through open country. That is when it’s enjoyable.
While on the chase, I heard the news that the city of Moore had been devastated by its third major and second destructive tornado in 14 years. That is when it is heartbreaking.
Whenever we hear news of some major event—a natural disaster especially (massive tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.), we are faced with a question: why does a good, loving, and all-powerful God allow these things to happen? The short and honest answer for each individual event is: we don’t know. The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. ~ Deuteronomy 29:29
When it comes to why these things happen in nature, generally, as a whole—the answer Paul gives in Romans 8 is that we live in a broken and fallen world crying out in pain and longing for the freedom of redemption.
When events like this happen, it is a time where we need to be few with our words, slow to speak, and quick to listen. We need to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). We need to love others and serve them in the name of the Only One who can ultimately heal all wounds (Matthew 25:31-40). And we need to pray.
It is easy for us to tune it out, to turn on the TV when we’re far removed and say, “That’s horrible, those poor people.” And then get on with our lives. But even if you live miles away, spend time praying for the people impacted (and not just there, but in other places damaged by storms this spring), for the first responders and the medical centers, and for the area churches as they seek to serve in a compassionate and gospel-centered way. And also give. Give blood, if you can; give through the Red Cross and other good charitable organizations, and give so our own Southern Baptist Disaster Relief program can mobilize and serve.