On March 3, at least two EF-3 tornadoes struck Middle Tennessee and killed twenty-four people. As of this writing, seventeen people are still missing. Hundreds of structures were destroyed. Four of the fatalities included a couple who were Christians and their small child, along with another young child from parents who were Christians in Cookeville. This was an incomprehensible tragedy for their family and friends, many of whom posted tributes on social media.
In the deepness of the tragedy, everyone who knew them and even those who didn’t wonder why something like this has to happen to innocent people. How does God give an answer in situations like these? What does He reveal to us to help our understanding?
We sometimes never know why we suffer and why tragic events occur. In this case, the four people didn’t do anything wrong, nor were they acted on by anyone doing wrong. Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 says that time and chance overtake us all, thwarting our plans and purposes. Swiftness, strength, age, etc., do not guarantee success. Jesus taught that guilt from sins is not the reason certain people suffer while others are spared (Luke 13:1-5).
So many hearts were breaking when the afternoon of March 3 revealed the extent of the loss. I can’t imagine what it would be like as a parent to lose a daughter, son-in-law, and a grandchild. Christ used the tragedy in Luke 13 to impress the need of repentance. Human tragedies are not always divine punishments, but they should make you reflect on what you’re doing. Repentance is both a once-for-all event that shapes the whole subsequent course of the life, and a day-by-day affair that keeps putting sin away. So when such tragedies occur, after the tears have dried, use them wisely to evaluate yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5), reflect on the temporary nature of this world (1 John 2:17), and be sure to store your treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21).