though I walk through the valley
Tragedy strikes again. To see the images of destruction in Moore, Oklahoma is to come to grips with just how small we are as humans and how frail our lives really are.
Within the hour of the tornado’s wreaking havoc, I tuned in to the live stream telecast of the area’s local news channel and noticed the feed of commentary from other viewers watching the same. The comments were across the board: heartless words of mockery and expressions of empathy for the hurting. Today, the photos from scenes of wreckage are telling: looks of shock and fear on the faces of survivors and obvious compassion from those assisting.
In spite of the contrasts observed in thoughts vocalized and images visualized, there is a common denominator that you and I can consider in the aftermath. In times like this, man desires to know why bad things happen to good people? In fact, it is the same question that burned in the heart of Job, a man whose story is reported as being the oldest writing contained in the Bible. Job suffered devastating loss. As a man who knew what it meant to be upright before the Lord, he grappled with why God would allow his children, property and health to be wiped out in an instant. Job, desiring desperately to have audience with his God, stated,
“If only I knew where to find Him; if only I could go to His dwelling! I would state my case before Him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would find out what He would answer me, and consider what He would say. Would He oppose me with great power? No, He would not press charges against me. There an upright man could present his case before Him, and I would be delivered forever from my Judge” (Job 23:3-7).
Can you identify? Have you also wanted to state your case before the Judge and perhaps allow Him to see that He has chosen to act wrongly? Listen in to the response Job received when God had heard all that He was going to hear from the defense.
“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? Let him who accuses God answer him!”
Then Job answered the Lord: “I am unworthy- how can I reply to you? I spoke once, but I have no answer- twice, but I will say no more.”
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm: “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like His? Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty” (Job 40:1-10).
These are not the answers that we are expecting, are they? When we desire God to address our worthiness to escape all pain and suffering, He instead replies that He alone is God. He emphasizes that His ways are higher than our ways and there is simply no way for us to understand all things in the same manner that He does as the Creator of all things. In case this was to sour your heart toward the God who is Love, please read the concluding statements of Job found in Chapter 42. Here you will discover why God’s name is Redeemer.
That leads me to my next question: In what way can God redeem the mess of Moore, Oklahoma? I’m not just talking about the obvious mountains of debris that litter the area; I’m talking about the lives that have hit rock bottom. Where is the hope for those facing horror? You know the answer, and so do I. God is near to the broken-hearted. God has not abandoned these precious people. His fame will be known for the first time in the lives of many and on a much greater level in the lives of others. There is testimony coming forth from what can only be defined in this moment as a shattered existence. God is faithfully walking them through to the other side; it’s His promise to all who call out to Him. His love cannot and will not fail. If uncertain of this outcome being a possibility, I ask you again to read the final paragraphs of Job 42. God will ensure that His name is known throughout the earth.