I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
3 When I remember God, I moan;
when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah
4 You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I consider the days of old,
the years long ago.
6 I said,“Let me remember my song in the night;
let me meditate in my heart.”
Then my spirit made a diligent search:
7 “Will the Lord spurn forever,
and never again be favorable?
8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah
10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
15 You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
16 When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
indeed, the deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
the skies gave forth thunder;
your arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lighted up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great waters;
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Another tragedy. More questions, “Where is God?” “Why did God allow this?” “If God is loving and all powerful why didn’t he stop this?”
In these moments Psalm 77 is a reminder that there are things that we cannot know. God is there even when his “footprints were unseen”. This Psalm echoes so much of my own broken-heartedness as I think about what happened in Oklahoma City. For the last couple of days I have been “so troubled I cannot speak” about this. My heart is heavy.
As I meditate on this Psalm, I am reminded of a couple things. First, my own history with God. He has proven over and over that he cares deeply for people. I have seen it first hand. Second, the way of God is holy. When tragedy strikes I can with confidence know that God’s way is holy.
These two truths provide a baseline for me to keep moving forward. They don’t answer any of the questions, but they provide a landing place from which I can begin the journey to answer them.
Why do we experience horrors like the Oklahoma City tornado or Katrina? At the end of the day it is because of sin. When Adam and Eve fell they plunged the whole creation into brokenness. Romans 8 tells us,
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
The whole creation is broken and under sin. The creation itself groans with expectation and hope for redemption. At the end of the day this is what I have, the creation is broken and under the reign of sin. Therefore, there are tragedies in nature.
God was not at work judging the people of Oklahoma City as some want to say. No, the Scriptures are clear about God’s compassion and heartbreak over the loss of a single person. It’s interesting that in these times we often ignore the story of Jonah and God’s great compassion for the city of Nineveh. God’s desire is for people to turn from their brokenness to him.
The creation is reeling from the effects of sin. It will continue to reel from those effects. But, in the midst of all this we must recall the great compassion of God and his care for people.
These creation calamities are not judgment. They are the natural effects of the fall into sin.
We are in a time of already but not yet. God has already revealed how we might experience grace and mercy. We can experience it in relationship with him through Christ. We place our hope in Christ and know that we can live free. However, God has not yet consummated all things. This comes when Christ returns.
As the creation groans and struggles under the brokenness of sin may it draw our hearts to ever greater desire for the return of Christ and in so doing the renewing of the good creation.