Tornado victims should remember that Jesus does love them

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 7, 2011

“Has anybody told you today that Jesus loves you?” That’s the first question a friend of mine will ask when we talk to each other. Sometimes I need that reminder.

At times, we may all need that reminder. The circumstances, especially times of tragedy such as the horrific tornado outbreak, can cause us to doubt whether Jesus really does love us.

According to news reports, the tornado that struck Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and many small towns in north Alabama was a mile wide and traveled 300 miles, causing more than 236 deaths in our state and destroying thousands of structures.

If I could speak to the people devastated by the tornado outbreak, I would like to ask them that question to remind them that Jesus does love them. Though the suffering and loss is unimaginable, His love has been demonstrated by the outpouring of relief aid that has been overwhelming.

German theologian Helmet Thielicke has said, “Tell me how much you know of the suffering of your fellow men and I will tell you how much you have loved them.”  Newsmen reporting from the tragic scene tell over and over about neighbors helping neighbors, and even complete strangers coming to the storm-ravaged areas, volunteering to help the tornado victims.

Even though we are powerless to calm the winds, we can pray for God to calm us.  There’s a song that says, “Sometimes He calms the storm, but other times He calms His child.” Father Andrew once wrote, “Never judge God by suffering, but judge suffering by the Cross. If suffering went out of life – courage, tenderness, pity, faith, patience, and love in its divinity would go out of life, too.”

The Apostle Paul put it this way, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation (not even a tornado), will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Tragedies show us how fragile life can be and what really matters most is not our possessions, rather those we love and the time we spend with them. We are reminded to treasure each day because we never know when it will be our last.

The Rev. Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, whose church was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, once said, “Storms come into everyone’s life, somewhere between the time you are born and the time you die.” It may not be a storm, but it could be a disease, divorce, debt or death.

The Rev. Luter recalled how God reminded him that Katrina was not the first storm He had brought him through. And if God could bring him through other storms of life, He could make it through this storm because Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.