New Year's Eve brought a tornado outbreak to several states in the South and Midwest that was responsible for seven deaths, scores of injuries, damage to hundreds of homes and buildings, and countless power outages.
One of the buildings damaged was Robertsville, Missouri's Shiloh Baptist Church, pastored by Rev. George Fulgham. Offering such questionable nuggets of comfort as "Nothing is a surprise to God" and "He knew all about these events," the good reverend was quite philosophical through the whole thing, noting that the church had been discussing tearing down and rebuilding anyway: "God has accelerated our building program." Well, hallelujah! (My source for Fulgham is this story.)
Rev, Fulgham says he wouldn't have to change his planned sermon topic, "New Beginnings." I'm sure that will bring comfort to every family who lost loved ones in these storms, whose "new beginning" will be starting the New Year off grieving over lost loved ones.
It's times like these that I'm especially glad I'm not a Christian minister. To accept the biblical proposition that God is sovereign over his creation - or as preachers like to put it in times of distress, "God is still on his throne!" - is to invite the question, "why?"
I wouldn't want to try to answer this from a biblical perspective.
The why for me is simple enough to understand on a strictly natural basis. This is what often happens when warm air collides with cold air. When it happens over populated areas, human injury and death are possibilities. If it happens where you live, you are at risk. I don't think we add anything to the picture by bringing in God's special providence.
But interviews with survivors, I'm certain, will reveal examples of those who believe their lives were spared by such divine providence. It always happens. And what, those who were killed were greater sinners than the survivors, or just somehow expendable in God's overall plan?
Truly these disasters bring out the very worst in theology.