A few days ago my wife and I watched a local news channel as they tracked the tornados in southern Indiana. At one point we were told we had 8 minutes before a twister would hit our small town. The thought of being in the path of destruction naturally scared us.
The tornado didn’t hit our house. But it did hit and destroy many other homes just a few miles from us. While we were thankful we were spared we were deeply saddened for those whose lives were impacted in such a profound way.
Two days later the first song of Sunday worship was All Creatures of Our God and King. The second verse caught my attention:
Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!
How does the “rushing wind” of a tornado “praise Him?” While singing I reflected on an interview with an elderly man whose house had been leveled. “The wind was the amazing power of the Lord!” Yes, I thought, but that wind caused a lot of destruction and even death.
I confess I think in terms of outcome when it comes to praising God. When something ‘good’ happens praise is easy for me. When the outcome is very different it is difficult. Is this because I am too self-centered and make my judgments on the basis of human health and happiness? What am I to think when the “amazing power of the Lord” leaves a path of death?
I want a faith that implicitly trusts God no matter what happens to me. I hope I do, but my house was not leveled. No one in my family died.
It is easy to be an ‘armchair’ theologian. But I hope I can live into the words of Henri Nouwen when he wrote, “Ordinary suffering will not be taken away, nor the suffering we must face when we bear witness to God’s love and are met with the world’s hostility and scorn [e.g. “How could a loving God who supposedly controls the wind orchestrate a tornado which harms people?”]. But our suffering will have meaning, will be lifted up, transformed by the unceasing love of God” (from Henri Nouwen: Writings Selected with an Introduction by Robert A. Jones).
In other words, I pray I can sing and mean the last verse of All Creatures of Our God and King.
Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!