Did God Really ‘Kill 23 People’ in a Tornado?
Will Maule. Faithwire. March 27, 2019
A tweet from a “God” parody Twitter account, @TheTweetOfGod, has raised some enormous questions about the sovereignty of God in times of tragedy and death. Quoting a Christian Post article which told the story of a family who survived the recent Alabama tornadoes by cramming into a “prayer closet,” the tweet declared, “I also killed 23 people in the same tornado. Do you see the problem?”
For many, this summarizes an enormous question — why does God spare some, and allow others to suffer and die?
‘Some get lucky, some don’t’
Well, lets start with the atheist viewpoint, as this will set an important context for the biblical consensus on this most difficult of questions. Simply put, atheists believe in a world that is void of any spiritual entity, power or presence. It is a chaotic universe of misfortune, suffering and pain in which the fittest survive, some get lucky, and others find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Richard Dawkins summed it up rather well: “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice,” he said.
But if this was the case, why do we become so indignant about such dreadful occurrences like the Alabama tornado? If it is just “the way of the world,” and a totally natural thing for people to be caught up in these horrific disasters and random tragedies, why do we find ourselves stricken with grief over death? Why are we left with profound questions over the cause and reason for such searing loss and pain?
Well, it is because, contrary to the atheist assertion, we are actually more than biological organisms. We are human beings, made in the image of God, who grieve, struggle and strive for meaning and answers. So, even if we cannot attain an answer that can be nicely squared away, we must recognize that the atheist viewpoint offers absolutely nothing to us on these matters — because it does not match up to our human experience.
In this life, everything will not be okay
Unfortunately, it is simply not true that, if we trust in God, no earthly harm will come to us. In fact, this is not in any way biblical. Of course, the overarching truth is that Jesus Christ has overcome the world, but He also promised us that we would have trouble (John 16:33) and warned us that we would likely suffer greatly in this broken and decaying world.
Moreover, throughout the chronology of the Bible, it is apparent that the people who trusted God the most were almost always the people who suffered in the most profound ways. Job, David, Joseph, Paul, the early apostles — they all suffered greatly at the hands of unfortunate earthly circumstances and dark spiritual forces. But, crucially, they continued to trust in God.
Why? Because they knew that the ways of the Lord were higher than their own. His plan was being worked out in their lives, and they submitted themselves to the sovereignty of God, no matter the cost.
They also knew that, through faith in God, they were, ultimately, safe.
As for those who perished in this weather phenomenon, let’s get something straight — God did not kill them, as @TheTweetOfGod crassly suggested. The God of the Bible is always bringing life, provision and protection — but we must be under no illusions — we live in a fallen and unforgiving world that will continue to offer us nothing but uncertainty.
God protects us now and forever
The world is fundamentally broken, and we are immersed in a fractured creation. Just take a look at the news — you cannot embed yourself in reality without being forced to admit that we live in a brutal and unrelenting world of suffering and pain. Despite this abject darkness, however, God’s spirit is still at work — He is active and reigning.
Indeed, in Alabama, God protected this faithful family in their hour of need. But it is important to note that if the result had have been different — if they had been among the 23 tragic fatalities — He still would have kept them safe in his presence, ushering them into the security of an eternity with Him.
Essentially, our only hope is found in the sovereignty of the Lord. For those who trust in God, eternal protection is guaranteed — it has been sealed by the blood of Christ and secured by the unfathomable, roaring ocean of the love of God.
By trusting in Jesus, we can be assured that nothing — not angels, demons, nor any powers or future events — not even death itself, can separate us from this magnificent love.