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Enjoying God Blog


I’m inclined to think the best way to respond to the tragedy that struck our community today is simply to say nothing. I have little patience for those who feel the need to theologize about such events, as if anyone possessed sufficient wisdom to discern God’s purpose. On the other hand, people will inevitably ask questions and are looking for encouragement and comfort. So how best do we love and pastor those who have suffered so terribly?

I’m not certain I have the answer to that question, and I write the following with considerable hesitation. I can only pray that what I say is grounded in God’s Word and is received in the spirit in which it is intended.

I first put my thoughts together on this subject when the tsunami hit Japan a couple of years ago. Now, in the aftermath of the tornado that struck Moore and other areas surrounding Oklahoma City, I pray that those same truths will prove helpful to some. Allow me to make seven observations.

(1) It will not accomplish anything good to deny what Scripture so clearly asserts, that God is absolutely sovereign over all of nature. He can himself send devastation. Or he may permit Satan to wreak havoc in the earth. Yes he can, if he chooses, intervene and prevent a tornado, a tsunami, and all other natural disasters. In the end, we do not know why he makes one choice and not another. In the end, we must, like Job, join the apostle Paul and say: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).

(2) God is sovereign, not Satan. Whether or to what extent Satan may have had a hand in what occurred we can never know. What we can know and must proclaim is that he can do nothing apart from God’s sovereign permission. Satan is not ultimately sovereign. God alone is.

(3) Great natural disasters such as this tell us nothing about the comparative sinfulness of those who are its victims. Please do not conclude that the residents of Moore, Oklahoma, are more sinful than any other city that has not as yet experienced such devastation. Please do not conclude that we are more righteous than they because God has thus far spared us from such events. The Bible simply won’t let us draw either conclusion. What the Bible does say is that we all continue to live and flourish not because we deserve it but solely because of the mercy and longsuffering of God. Life is on loan from God. He does not owe us existence and what he has mercifully given he can take back at any time and in any way he sees fit.

(4) Events such as this should remind us that no place on earth is safe and that we will all one day die (unless Jesus returns first). Whether by a peaceful natural death at the age of 90, or by a sudden heart attack at 50, or in a car accident at 15, or by a slow battle with cancer at virtually any age, we will all likewise die. We are not immortal. The only ultimately and eternally safe place to be is in the arms of our heavenly Father from which no tornado or earthquake or tsunami or cancer or car wreck can ever snatch us or wrench us free.

(5) We should not look upon such events and conclude that the Second Coming of Christ and the end of history are at hand, but neither should we conclude that the Second Coming of Christ and the end of history are not at hand. What we should do is humble ourselves before the Lord and prepare our hearts for the day of his return, whenever that may be, whether in our lifetime or some distant date centuries from now.

(6) We must learn to weep with those who weep. We must pray for them, serve them, help them, give to them, and do all within our power to alleviate their suffering (even if their suffering is caused by God). We do not have to agree with them religiously or politically to shower them with the love of Christ. Jesus calls upon us to show mercy to those who suffer, even if they do not deserve it. The fact is, none of us deserves it. That’s why the Bible calls it mercy: it is undeserved kindness. Remember Luke 6:27 where Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

(7) Pray that God will use such an event to open the hearts and eyes of a city and a state immersed in unbelief and idolatry (and I have in mind not merely Oklahoma, but also America as a whole), to see the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and turn in faith to him, lest something infinitely worse than a tornado befall them: Eternal condemnation. Eternal suffering.


I feel led to add my "amen" to those of most of the commenters. You said it very well, Sam.
I believe that one day it will be clear why the tragic events happened as they did. It is not clear now. We don't know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.

It is so sad to see so many Christians confusing the scriptures. God had nothing to do with this tornado or any other natural disaster. It's easy to see the connection of Gods wrath on those in the Old Testament, but that was with a covenant between God and the Jewish people, not us. If God did this, then Jesus never lived, died, and defeated death for all mankind. There is a new covenant filled with grace. Jesus paid the price for all sin. It is finished. We may disappoint Gid for our sins, but His wrath is not going to come upon us for it. Remember, Jesus paid the price. Please seek that revelation knowledge and God will reveal it.

Job. 37:13 says, "He brings the clouds to punish men, or to water His earth and show His love." And this is what the Lord says, "If those who do not deserve to drink the cup must drink it, why should you go unpunished? You will not go unpunished, but must drink it" (Jer. 49:12). And even Luke tells us, "Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, 'Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.' " (Lke. 13:1-5). Even Ezekiel writes of the Lord's four sore judgments in chapter 14:21-23 and the Lord concludes, "I have done nothing...without cause" (v. 23).

Thank you pastor Sam Storms for your faithfulness to God, to His Word, and for being spiritually sensitive. May we never forget or profane God by denying His Sovereignty, His compassion, nor the reality that we will all one day meet our end, stand before God, and rest secure in the presence of our Father, and under the saving arm of Jesus...

I agree with the pastor , concerning the Biblical perspective on the Tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma !

Martin. ... I've personally seen Sam weap for the lost of the world. And I've seen many other "American" pastors do the same. Although I don't understand why being American or not has anything to do with it. I also think its clear that this article isn't written to say "I have all the answers" re-read the opening statements please. Grace and peace to you.

Isaiah 57:1
The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.

I whole-heartedly agree with what you have written, and thank you for it. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32. I especially appreciate the call to weep with those who weep.

Thank you so much for that wonderful encouraging and truthful message.
I really needed that tonite! God Bless You as you Bless others!

Beautifully written with a wonderful message full of truth. Thank you for this. I enjoyed it immensely.

Some verses that come to mind:
Luk 13:4-5 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Ecc 9:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Lam 3:32-33 But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.
33 For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.

Martin - why such hostility? You have a good message to offer, but it seems to get lost in all the sarcasm. I agree with you that we should be mourning, begging and pleading with the lost to be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:17-20) If you desire to rebuke Dr. Storms for Biblical errors go for it, I'm sure he can take it.

Atheist - For someone who doesn't believe in God, you sure seem to be upset by Him.

Well written article.

Kevin Jandt

For a person who is "an Amillennial, Calvinistic, charismatic, credo-baptistic, complementarian, Christian Hedonist" whatever that means to the average person of intelligence, I have no clue what what you are talking about. I quess you feel that you have to use big works that about one percent of the audience can understand.
I thought you where just a sinner saved by grace who is in love with Jesus Christ.
Anyway, you stated that "I have little patience for those who feel the need to theologize about such events, as if anyone possessed sufficient wisdom to discern God’s purpose", but yet it seems the mighty Sam Storms does. I cannot figure out for a man that is the expert on Jonathan Edwards that you so called religious experts cannot say :
" For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness", this country is in trouble. We are a nation under the wrath of God. We need to repent and turn to God. We need leaders who will say this in love and kindness with broken and weaping hearts.
Sam last question if you have the courage to be honest and answer a simple question. When was the last time you got up on the pulpit and broke down weaping for the lost of the world"
I would quess never. But of course preachers in America never weap. You may be smart. You may be the smartest guy in the room but it is time to sit down and let others preach.
Martin Olichwier.
Ps. I know you will not respond. You guys never do..............

Thank you for putting into words the truths we hold in our hearts.

To Kansas Bob and those who agree with him:

1. As stated here, God is Sovereign, even over the actions of evil mend and Satan. Satan is a club in the hand of God as was the King of Assyria (Read Isaiah 10 in it's entirety). Satan could do nothing apart from God's authority and in the end of Job it says:

"Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil THAT THE LORD HAD BROUGHT upon him:.." Job 42:11

1. God IS Sovereign over his creation and over disasters! In Amos 3, God is asking a series of rhetorical questions whose obvious answer is YES!

v6 "When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it? " Answer: YES!

2. As stated here ALL are subject to the effects of the curse of death through sin, even Christians who ultimately are redeemed from sin! "He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. " Mat 4:45

Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." Luke 14:2-5

3. The same calamity may come upon the righteous and unrighteous, Christians and Non-Christians, yet, God's purpose for each person affected by the calamity is different:

For a Christian who perished in the calamity:
"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants. " Psalm 116:15

"When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but EVEN IN DEATH the righteous seek refuge in God." Proverbs 14:32

For the Non-Christian who perished in the calamity:

"I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you— when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. "Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD. Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; .." Proverbs 1:26-32

For the Non-Christian/Atheist/Unbeliever on whom God had mercy and spared their life:
Jesus healed a man then gave this stern warning:

"Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." John 5:14

"Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy. " Proverbs 29:1

"...... people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, " Hebrews 9:27

I wonder how many thousands or millions of tornadoes God *does* stop from occurring? This planet, in its fallenness, could just be in climate turmoil continually, if not for God's mercy. Good essay!

Thank youi I really also needed to hear this today. We serve a mighty God and He and only Him knows the whys of everything and thst is what is the most important thing to know Him and to serve Him and to love our neighbors as ourselves. A very good and timely article. Thanks

Isaiah 45:7
I form the light,
and create darkness.
I make peace,
and create calamity.
I am Yahweh,
who does all these things.

Thank you for these truths. We ask why, knowing we could never understand the answer. We must remind ourselves that God is perfect justice, mercy and love. When we see Him face to face, we will know what we now believe by faith. Until then, it is OK to cry.

Thank you so much for this "analysis" or rather - compilation of what most who posted here believe to be the truth. Too bad "atheist" would not leave their name. Perhaps an indication that anonymity might "save" them from what they believe is a vengeful God. God is good.....always!

"Awesome"!! Thank God for your wisdom,this post is such a huge blessing!!

It's important to note that although we have a sovereign God we are also in a fallen world. Though God clothed our first parents with animal skins and issued the gospel promise on the heels of their rebellion this world is not as it was in its pristine unfallen state. Whenever the character or prerogatives of God are in question we must not use the newspaper but the cross of Christ as our standard. There we see our God at work displaying the deepest and truest expression of love, mercy and grace for us. It is there at His cross and not in the book of nature He calls you to look for in altering love. Let no other circumstance undermine the cross. Our Sovereign God call you to look to His life, death and resurrection if tou doubt His love. Trust Him through the darkness and confusion. He is your God and your rock. One day this earth in its fallen state, along with you will likewise be redeemed and find its fruition and fulfillment in the eschaton where no tears and sorrows dwell

Thank you for sharing Pastor Sam!

"When I tried to understand all this,
it seemed hopeless until I entered God’s sanctuary." (Psalm 73:16-17)
"They are to make a sanctuary for Me so that I may dwell among them." (Exodus 25:8)
The sanctuary was constructed for the benefit of God's people. It was made for the purpose of worshipping The LORD God who gave visible evidence of His presence among them.
Troublesome events and circumstances (like devastating tornadoes) that can lead to heartache, confusion, worry, anger, and fear can best be understood when we are led to consider life from an eternal perspective. Worshipping God tends to do that for his creatures more than anything else.
"Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!" (Psalm 95:6)

I needed to hear this! Thank you!

Well said. He is the only truth that can ultimately satisfy a hurting soul. God is there and He is not silent. Jesus is there in the midst of the chaos and He will one day make all things new.
Praying that those who do not know Him will see Jesus more clearly through this.

Thank you for posting, my God is Sovereign!!!! xo

Thank you pastor for your spirit led comments. We are earnestly praying that recent events will drill into the soul of a sinful nation and penetrate the hearts of believers causing us to be passionate to share the gospel.

Praise God! Finally, a post that I agree with 100%. Even though we have some theological differences, I love you and your ministry and am enjoying the blog immensely! Thanks Sam.

Thank you, Sam, for your wise, biblical and helpful observations. I read them earlier this morning during my quiet time and again with my wife during breakfast. Have a blessed day!

Very well written and very much needed in our unbelieving communities. I give a hearty AMEN to everything you said. I just hate it came from a Sooner rather than a Longhorn...HOOK EM' HORNS!! LOL

I fail to see how an F4 tornado essentially leveling communities and killing people including 20 children, is the doings of a fair and loving god. Sounds more like a sadistic, violent being that enjoys disrupting people's lives with torture, cruelty, and murder.

This is a spot on article brother. May we followers of Jesus Christ continue to bathe these folks from Oklahoma in prayer and do whatever we can to help and comfort them. No doubt the God of all comfort has comforted us for such a time as this.

Thank you! I needed a well thought out article to post in response to some unbelieving friends questioning God in all of this. Thank you for your well spoken and Biblically sound truths! I'm posting and trusting the Holy Spirit with the rest.

Very well said Sam. Thank you for saying it.

Well said. I am a Canadian, living in a very "safe" area of my country. The only natural disaster I have experienced was the Ice Storm of '98, but even that was little compared to what so many of our neighbours to the south (and in many other parts of the world) have had to suffer. However, I am under no illusion that we are immune from any natural disaster; we do live on a fault line on the Canadian Shield and often feel tremors - I'm thinking it's just a matter of time. All that to say, I am so thankful for your bang on commentary above and the comforting reminder of Who is in control. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed . . . ." Ps. 46:1-2 lw

Amen and well said. I see no argument since you stated biblical facts to support what you say. It brings comfort to the believer and SHOULD stop the unbeliever from asking where is God.

Amen. And amen, again.

Well said. Thank you. As Christians the best response we can have is to get on our knees and pray.

I don't believe god chooses to allow or disallow these things to happen. they are simply acts of nature. they cannot be blamed on god or sin. I DO believe that god is ready to comfort and love us through the difficult storms of our lives if we turn to him at these awful times. but to say he chose for it to happen or allowed satan to let it happen is absurd. yes, god is sovereign over all things but that does not mean he stops forces of nature from happening. these things can bring out the best in people though. the love of god is shared as people help each other dig out of the rubble, shelter and feed the victims, cry with the victims and pray with and for the victims. god is always a good god. we need to stop blaming him for every evil thing that goes on and every tragedy that occurs. all I can do is pray for these poor people. my heart weeps for them--especially for the parents of the children and thru this I pray people will come to know gods goodness and grace. however, I will not say he had anything to do with allowing it to happen.

"He can himself send devastation. Or he may permit Satan to wreak havoc in the earth."

Methinks you might embrace the erroneous theology of Job and his friends?

"Life is on loan from God. He does not owe us existence and what he has mercifully given he can take back at any time and in any way he sees fit."

That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it? Very powerful statement and very much at the centre of not only trying to make sense of events like this, but for me, also at the centre of striving for contentment. There is good wisdom and encouragement here. Thank you for putting your thoughts down on virtual paper to share with others. (Came here via Tim Challies)

This is a good article.

It is gut wrenching, this acceptance of the sovereign hand of God. He is. He chooses. One digs deep to trust, deep past pain and sorrow, right down deep into hope. The irony is, there is no where else to turn in suffering. My husband and daughter were critically injured by a drunk then 14 year old daughter sustained a traumatic brain injury. This is suffering that doesn't go away. Always sorting it out. This has sustained me: 1 John 1:5 God is light: in Him there is no darkness at all. He cannot have a dark motive. But we live under the shadow...

Thank you so much for the word of wisdom you have graciously shared. As several of us gathered last evening to plan our support of the tornado victims in our area, we concluded with prayer. As we prayed, the Lord reminded me of a verse I have clung to over the years. "I would have despaired had I not believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, Wait for the Lord: be strong, let your heart take courage; yes wait for the Lord." Ps 27:13-14.

Thank you for presenting these grace filled words in light of such devastation! How comforting to be reminded of God's sovereignty, love, mercy, and grace. Praying that ears and eyes will read and hear our loving Father speaking to us!

We are keeping you, your family and church family in prayer. Our hearts weep with you all. God is good. May his name be glorified in this sorrow.

Excellent thoughts and observations in the midst of great tragedy and sorrow. Thank you for your perspective and ministry. I am praying for you all as God provides the opportunities to minister during this time.

Thank you....needed some grounding in His mysterious ways once again.

Calvinism is Satanic Teaching!

Humbled by theses 7 observations....God is indeed Sovereign!...Thank you for reminding us that God does not owe us existence as we tend to demand so much from God and yet it is His Mercy that keeps us alive......Unmerited Favour..Amen

From the bottom of my heart, thanks for this!!!

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