For it is by grace you have been saved...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Power and Providence of God

Late Monday and into Tuesday morning, the Ozarks endured a 14 hour marathon as one wave after another of storms hit the same places over and over. At least 5, and as many as 12 tornadoes blasted through the area. Within a few miles of us, at least two people were killed, many others injured, and still more who lost their homes. Two of our church families were among those who were hardest hit. And both are lessons in both the power and providence of God.

One family literally rode the storm out in their truck as they were leaving their home to go to “safer” ground at a family’s house. Tossed about by the twister, they escaped unharmed. Their house wasn’t so lucky, but God’s providential hand was definitely on them in the midst of this powerful display.

The other family hunkered down in a hallway, not having a basement to retreat to, and yet even though the roof was ripped off and trees blown through the living rooms like rockets, they also escaped unharmed. God’s hand at work again.

In fact, as we helped a bit with some clean up, another brother brought in some Sonic cheeseburgers for lunch, and the brother who owned this house stood in the roofless, ruined shell of his dining room to offer thanks for the food, and began by praising God for His blessings. I honestly came near to tears.

And yet, I still struggle with many aspects of God’s Providence. I firmly believe in it. I teach on it regularly. But I honestly struggle. Why is it that these families lost their homes while our house received only minor damage? The kids trampoline was tossed onto the shed for an impressive visual, but the house itself has only a handful of minor issues.

Why is it that God’s hand protected these two families in such a miraculous way, and yet at least two others died? Why is it that as we hunkered in the basement, my stomach doing flip flops from anxiety (better known as lack of faith), God set His protection over us, while just up the street a family’s house is destroyed?

I don’t know that I will ever have answers to my questions. I don’t know that I can answer others when they ask. But whether it seems like another empty platitude or not, all I can say is this: God is still God. His power and providence are both evident in all this. With Job, I can only affirm to Him “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). I can only pray that God will give me the faith of my brother who praised God in the midst of his loss, and recognize God’s hand at work. And I pray that I will be more aware of that Hand day in and day out, knowing He never sleeps nor slumbers, and may I have faith to recognize with David:

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

(Psalm 139:7-12 ESV)

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