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I’ve just recently spent six days in Pottawattamie County, Iowa. 


On April 26, a tornado ripped through the town of Minden, Iowa, and pretty much tore it to shreds. 


This little town of 596 people sustained damage estimated at $20 million dollars to 302 homes and businesses –and that’s not counting the 40 mile-long swath it plowed through the rolling hills of rural Iowa. There are places where that tornado was almost a mile wide. (5100 feet)


I was there working with GoServ Global’s Domestic Disaster Response Team. 


One day, we had a crew of 60 FFA students from Audubon High School volunteer to pick up debris. We dispatched 30 of them to a 400 acre corn field less than a mile outside Minden. It was littered with tens of thousands of pieces of debris. Most of the debris was made up of the shredded remains of shingles –but we also found shoes, sticks, splinters of lumber, mangled curtain rods, pieces of light fixtures, two golf balls, and even the strainer from a kitchen sink. All of it looked like it had been sucked up, run through a blender, and spit out on this field. 


None of it was stuff that would have allowed the corn crop to come up through it.


The students filled hundreds of five gallon buckets with these pieces of what had been people’s homes and lives and pitched them in a big pile to be burned or buried or carted off.


A day or two later, I stood in a lady’s driveway offering her whatever assistance GoServ had that she could use. Her garage was to my right and her home to my left. The tornado had ripped off a big chunk of the front of the garage, leaving the contents intact, but now exposed to wind and rain. Her home was still standing but the tornado had lifted it up and dropped it back down in much the same way one taps an egg on the counter to crack it. 


Her cracked-open home was no longer habitable, and she and her husband were now waiting for the insurance company to determine what and how much and when something could be done.


And, as I stood there talking to her, the conversation turned to how a good God could allow such a bad thing to happen. 


It’s an age-old question, and she had been taught that God is in control of the really big things, but there are some small things He just lets work out by themselves.


Now, of course, my theology tells me God is omnipotent and omniscient and is in control of absolutely everything. And, my Bible says not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from the will of our Father. (Matthew 10:29)


Later, this conversation made me think of the book of Job where we have 42 chapters of really bad stuff happening to a guy who did nothing at all to earn it or deserve it. Sure, his “friends” were convinced that all of the horrible stuff happening to Job was punishment from God, and even Job’s wife told him to, “Curse God and die.” (Job 2:9)  What Job doesn’t know is that everything that is happening to him is the result of God bragging about his faithfulness to Satan and Satan trying to get Job to take the advice of his wife. 


Job never does curse God, but through it all, he is constantly (and understandably, I might add) wondering, “Why? Why are you allowing this God?”


God finally does respond in Chapter 38: 1-3:


“Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind:

“Who is this that questions my wisdom

with such ignorant words?

Brace yourself like a man,

because I have some questions for you,

and you must answer them.


God then proceeds to ask Job 77 questions, all of which basically boil down to, “Who do you think you are, little man?” God asks, “Did you put the stars in the sky? Did you put sea within it’s bounds? Where does light come from and where does darkness go? Do you know the laws of the universe?”


In the end, Job all Job can say is: (Chapter 42:3)


“You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.”


Job has to concede that God is God and he is not. God did what God did for reasons far above and beyond the earthly suffering that Job experienced –reasons beyond his understanding.


And the part that I missed about these passages for so many years when I have read them before is that never once does God ever even mention Satan in His response to Job. He never tells Job that all of what happened in his life was the result of God showing Satan who is God and who is not. Job gets the message that God has a purpose and a plan that’s bigger than his problems, but God clearly shows He is under no obligation to reveal to Job the details of the battle between powers and principalities in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)


And, as this continued to roll around in my soul, it came to me that the most absolutely horrible thing that ever happened in the whole history of the earth is that God came down to earth clothed in flesh to be our Savior and Messiah and we killed Him.


We killed Him because we didn’t like or understand the depth and mercy and grace and love God would pour out on us through His own Son. So, we lashed out in anger and ignorance and hatred and beat and spit on and mocked the very Son of God before we nailed Him to a tree and watched Him die as He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46)


So, God knows what it is like to be human and to suffer.


The thing is, even when Jesus cried out because it seemed that God had abandoned Him*, there were people who loved him at the foot of the cross sharing in that pain and suffering and loving Him. 


So, I did not stand in that lady’s driveway and correct her theology or preach to her from the Book of Job. I prayed for her and assured her that God loves her more than she can ever know. I let her know that I was there to share that love and help in any way I and the team with me could. I made it abundantly clear that she was not suffering alone, that there were people who care, and that, in the end, the love of God is greater and more glorious than even the power of a tornado.



Today’s Praise

Revelation 19:6

Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the LORD! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. ((NLT)


* Please read Psalm 22 in its entirety

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