Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Every Day Tragedy

As I am writing, my city, Joplin, MO, remembers the devastating tornado that touched down two years ago today. The tornado took the lives of 158 people and destroyed a third of the city. Just three hours down the interstate another community was more recently struck by a similar disaster. We stand with you today, Moore, OK.

As always happens after a major tragedy, someone starts questioning God. Then someone else feels the need to answer for God. I find little satisfaction in the answers people give, whether defending God's sovereignty or His love. It seems like something is always left out. Where is God's heart in all of this pain and suffering?

What is it about events like these that make us question God. On May 20, 2013, roughly 155,000 people died. 24 of them died in a tornado in Moore Oklahoma. I find it a little odd that we make such a  to-do about the 24, and forget the tragedy of the other 154,976. Each life was equally precious. Each death equally tragic, whether from cancer, car wrecks, or tornadoes.

The last I checked, the mortality rate in this country is at exactly 100%. I've heard it's about the same across the world. All of us will face death. Each time it happens, Satan chalks up another victory. The curse has beaten out another human being made in the image of God. Death is a tragedy that happens every day. It is not unique to major natural disasters, or mass homicides.

Jesus was faced with one of those every day tragedies, when his dear friend Lazarus died after a brief illness. You can read all about it in John 11 in the Bible.  Jesus came back with the very intention of showing the power and goodness of God in raising Lazarus from the dead. He knew that in a very short time he would defeat death and roll back the curse. Jesus knew Lazarus was about to walk out of the grave. But as Jesus approached the grieving family and friends of Lazarus, he wasn't thinking victory.

"Jesus wept"

If you want to know where the heart of God is in tragedy, look no farther. The God of the universe, sovereign over all creation weeps. God is sick of death beating up his children, enslaving the ones he loves. Even as God has unfolded his plan to defeat death, He weeps and mourns for those that are lost to this unspeakable horror. Every child that dies of malnutrition in Somalia. Every death-row inmate eating his last meal. Every baby who's brains are sucked out moments before it is born. Every octogenarian who dies peacefully in her sleep. God sees it. God weeps.

So today I join God and weep too. Not only for those lost in the tornadoes. Not only for their families who grieve. I weep for everyone who will face this everyday tragedy called death. Even as my hope is confident in resurrection, in victory over death my heart is heavy with the weight of its curse.

It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
the living should take this to heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:2)

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