“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
This is a question that I’ve been asking myself quite a bit recently. As we worked on the streets of a north Nashville neighborhood last Saturday helping clean up debris from the recent tornados, that question was central in my thoughts. Why? Why did some houses receive no damage, others minimal damage and still others were destroyed? Why did some families lose almost everything while some families go on as if nothing ever happened?
As I think about the devastation in Cookeville, I wonder why events happened the way that they did. Why did a four-year-old little girl have to be taken from her loving parents? Why did an entire family perish in the wrath of a tornado? Why did so many people lose so much? Why were other people not affected at all? Why did it hit Cookeville instead of another town nearby? Why did all of this have to happen? Why does there have to be so much pain, loss and devastation?
I don’t have an answer. I can point to all of the incredible stories of rescues and sacrifice that have emerged in the aftermath and claim it reveals the goodness and kindness of the majority of people in our communities. I can point to the incredible generosity of strangers giving to strangers and the unity that has emerged from the rubble. I could point to the goodness and love so many churches have lavished upon these communities in the past week. The church has shown up big time during this past week and people have been reminded of the immeasurable value and importance of being part of a community of faith. I could fill page after page with acts of kindness, compassion and mercy that have occurred during the past week. So much good has come out of the rubble. God’s light has shined healing upon a broken community.
But I still can’t say why it all happened. I have no answer. I can’t state with certainty why God allowed it all to happen. Instead, the only thing I can claim is “I don’t know”. I don’t know why God allowed the horrific and the violent to occur. I don’t know why certain people lost their lives. I don’t why so many families are now wrestling with the reality of a “new normal” in their lives. I don’t know God’s purpose behind it all.
But I do know God. I know that He is good. I know that He is faithful. I know that He loves us, and He loved those people affected by the tornado. I know that He is working through all of this and I know that He will continue to heal and work through the tragedy that has befallen so many.
Why? I don’t know. But I know God. I trust Him. I know that He is faithful, and He will not leave or dessert us and He will make all things new and good in the end. That must be enough for me. My Father is good, and I must trust in Him.