I’m writing this week while watching televised coverage of the horrific impact of Hurricane Sandy on the Northeastern United States – catastrophic flooding, property damaged and destroyed, millions without power and lives lost. Natural disasters like this one raise the age old question – why? Why does God let such storms occur, take innocent lives and cause hardship to innocent people?
That question applies not only to massive natural disasters, but to all of our lives as well. All of us sometimes encounter trying, troubling and tragic circumstances that leave us asking “why?” – a question that has no easy answers when we’re in the midst of difficulty. We can find encouragement, however, in what often happens after horrific events.
In the case of Hurricane Sandy, the recovery has already begun, resilient people are already working to make things better, neighbors are getting to know and reaching out to each other, and good and decent elected officials with political disagreements are working together for recovery rather than exploiting the tragedy for personal gain. The “why” question in the case of Hurricane Sandy will never be answered, but the aftermath may bring new bonds of understanding, communication and cooperation.
Remember that when struggles come your way and make you ask “why.” Many people say you’ll “get over” it, but the real blessing is that with God’s grace and guidance, you’ll “grow from” it – I did. Thirty-eight years ago today, the Lord unexpectedly called my mother home to glory and I had to wrestle with the “why.” That question, however, prompted me to embrace my faith, get involved in my home church and to eventually answer a long deferred call to ministry. What was then my greatest personal tragedy led to what I now consider to be a great and enduring personal and vocational blessing.
Unexpected and catastrophic circumstances will touch all of us sooner or later and leave us asking “why,” but what really matters is the “Who” – the God who hears our every prayer, who never abandons us and who brings comfort, reassurance, recovery and daily blessings. When we turn to, stay close to and rely on God in our most difficult times, we’ll find strength and consolation and be able to face life with faith, saying, as did clergyman and composer Charles Albert Tindley, “We’ll understand it better by and by.”