This week has seen the largest number of deaths from tornadoes in the U.S. since 1974. One of the meteorologists made a statement on a newscast that with our current capabilities of warnings and communications and tracking, they never thought we would see the death toll anywhere near what it has been this week.
We live in paradise. We routinely have winds that would be devastating in most areas of the Lower 48. They are just a fact of life for us. I sometimes chuckle at the newscasters on the morning shows who are warning people to prepare because they are in the path of violent winds that may reach 40-45 mph. If they only knew. But a winter storm that brings 100-plus mph winds cannot compare to the devastation of tornadic winds.
I didn’t watch the news warnings and broadcasts casually. Both of our sons were under tornado warnings this week. As I watched the newscasts and the tracking reports, I was grateful that they were spared the experience that they’ve both seen first-hand. I lifted many prayers over the last few days for those who were not spared.
My wife and I have seen these storms up close and personal. We’ve mourned with the survivors. We’ve praised God for the many tiny miracles that are always told from those who should not have survived. We’ve huddled together in the dark and prayed for our own safety as F5 tornadoes came through our town, narrowly missing our house. We have spent many exhausting weeks helping provide food, shelter and necessities for those who survived.
In the boot heel of Missouri, the Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to explode a levee that will flood tens of thousands of acres of farmland and destroy their livelihood for the next generation. They hope that action will lower the river levels where the Mississippi and Ohio rivers meet and spare the town of Cairo. The base where I spent my last tour in the Marine Corps was evacuated for flooding from the rain this week. These supercells that produce these monster tornadoes bring torrential rains with them. Those areas that are not hit with the tornado itself commonly receive 6-12 inches of rainfall in less than a matter of hours. The flooding is not as sudden as the tornado, but the end results can be just as devastating for the homeowners in the path.
The Apostle Paul said that storms arise and troubles come in many forms. How we handle these troubles reveal our true character. When we overcome our troubles, through the grace of God, we are strengthened. And with that strength, we can in return comfort those who are troubled. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says; “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
When storms arise, the question is not, “Where is God?” The question is always, “Where are God’s people and what are they doing?” Many of the people that I have trained and worked with are working alongside many others who are bringing comfort to those afflicted. My heart and prayers are with them.