God’s Sovereignty in the Face of Tragedy

After catastrophic events like the Oklahoma City tornado, people understandably ask the same questions–questions along the lines of, “Why would a good God allow this to happen?”

Coincidentally-named Oklahoma City pastor Sam Storms has obviously heard those questions many times before, and he writes on the struggle to answer them:

I’m inclined to think the best way to respond to the tragedy that struck our community today is simply to say nothing. I have little patience for those who feel the need to theologize about such events, as if anyone possessed sufficient wisdom to discern God’s purpose. On the other hand, people will inevitably ask questions and are looking for encouragement and comfort. So how best do we love and pastor those who have suffered so terribly? 


It will not accomplish anything good to deny what Scripture so clearly asserts, that God is absolutely sovereign over all of nature. He can himself send devastation. Or he may permit Satan to wreak havoc in the earth. Yes he can, if he chooses, intervene and prevent a tornado, a tsunami, and all other natural disasters. In the end, we do not know why he makes one choice and not another. In the end, we must, like Job, join the apostle Paul and say: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36)

In the face of tragic loss, it’s perfectly normal and human to ask “why?” I’d never condemn anyone for asking it, and I’d never presume to throw some Bible verses at them and expect them to be satisfied with that.

But the hard truth is that there is no why, no answer that will make everything seem ok. None that we can comprehend on this side of heaven, anyway. God’s mind is so far above ours, it’s a fruitless exercise to think we could understand his “why’s.”

All we can do is hang onto that which must be true: that even when the world looks dark, God is sovereign,  he loves us, and he wants what’s best for us.

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