After having our hearts warmed with fellowship and our bellies filled with the ladies’ cooking on our first visit back to our congregation in Kokomo, Indiana, my son Spencer and I started off east on Sunday to return home to Pennsylvania. We left trying to beat some severe weather we knew was coming from the west. However, we had no sooner gone down the street than I had to circle around the block and return to the church, as my son had forgotten some things.
Just then my daughter Emory exited the building. She had also come to worship with us and was heading back west to Lafayette, hoping also to get there before the weather hit. As I talked further with her through the window as I sat in the driver’s seat, the western sky growing darker behind her deepened my sense of fatherly concern. Unlike the plans we had made just moments earlier for her to leave, I asked her to stay in Kokomo until the storm passed, said goodbye again, then drove away.
As this aerial video shows, within an hour Kokomo was hit severely by a tornado, coming from the very direction my daughter would have been driving. Indeed, Lafayette also had heavy damage. Thankfully, she was spared the fate of righteous Job’s children, all ten of whom died in a single day from just such a whirlwind (Job 1:18-19). Sadly, on this Sunday when 65 tornadoes struck the Midwest, not everyone was so fortunate.
Clearly, the message of Job is not that his children died because of his lack of righteousness. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar tried that age-old argument without success. Equally clearly, my child lives on, but not because of my righteousness or wisdom (I had originally sent her out right into the face of the storm). So why did things work out for us on this day? What would life be like right now for me if she had left? What about others who lost loved ones?
Let us go back to Job. Of all things, the Book of Job ends with the Lord speaking to his servant out of…a whirlwind (Job 38:1). Have you ever thought of how seeing the Lord speak from the very means of nature that killed his children must have pained Job? After all, could not have God been more sensitive to one who had suffered so much? And what type of condolence is found in his opening words, “Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” Thinking of these things makes my own thoughts swirl like leaves before a tornado.
Yet as I meditate on those last chapters of Job, the mental winds begin to still. For I hear once again the voice of the one who declares he is sovereign over it all, from “the stormy wind, fulfilling His word” (Psalm 148:8) to the ceased winds listening to the cry of “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:39). Comfort, as he teaches Job and through him us, comes not from thinking somehow we can control all the events the winds bring, but in knowing the one who does.