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Thoughts in the Rubble


Photo by: NOAA NSSL

Once again “end of the world” associations are being given to a natural disaster. For example, an online video shows video of the destruction observed by a survivor who emerges from a storm cellar to capture images of  apocaplyptic destruction.. The only audible words are, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”

Other survivors though have had a different reaction to the same losses. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer did an interview among the rubble with a delightfully poised and grateful young woman who, with small  son in arms, had made a quick decision that saved their lives. The  mother described how, instead of climbing into the tub with her  son and pulling a mattress over them,  she ran to her car and drove “south” far enough to avoid the tornado’s direct hit of her home. She returned some time later to find her frantic husband pulling through the rubble thinking that he had just lost his wife and child.

When Wolf said, “You must thank the Lord for your decision”, the young woman smiled sheepishly and looked down without answering. When Wolf repeated his question, she looked up at him and said, “I’m an atheist.”

They laughed together and Wolf said (apparently referring to her decision to run from the house), “well you made the right decision.”

In some ways, the “no God” response was surprising. It’s not what we usually hear in such times. But we all know that it is increasingly common for a younger generation to be choosing not to believe.

In this case, the mother added that she does not blame some for thanking the Lord. I’d love to know her story. Choices to believe, or not to believe, and then to express them standing in the middle of such devastation—don’t just happen.

Interestingly, as she spoke graciously of those who do “thank God” for such survival, I certainly don’t find myself blaming her (or those) who don’t thank God for enduring and surviving such catastrophic loss.

What are your thoughts?

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34 Responses to “Thoughts in the Rubble”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    My thoughts on not blaming some for *not* thanking God for surviving such catastrophic events.

    Luke 17:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 records the healing of ten lepers, but only one returned and gave thanks.

    How I feel about others who do or don’t give thanks for surviving disaster feels small compared as to how I myself react in my faith to giving credit to God one way or the other.

    In the first moments following any disaster people are stunned and in shock and they may say many things that they would like to edit and recopy for public view. However today following any such disaster as this tornado they are apt to have a camera in their face and a microphone to share that shock and confusion with the world.

    The view and sounds of parents and grandparents arriving to find their children without interview is the best scene I recall watching. Panicked and worried parents and children racing and pushing through crowds of others swept up in tears and elation as they embrace the one they are looking for.

    For 30 children their families will have to deal with the horrible ordeal of burial. I doubt too many will be thanking God for the fate they are left to live with.

    Each person will have to settle in their own hearts how they feel about placing God in the midst of this mess and I am certain some will be thankful, some will be angry and some, as with the atheist Mart referred to, will chalk things up to *luck*.


  2. swwagner says:

    I agree that the reactions to any given disaster from a variety of people will all be different. If this tornado happened to me, I might be surprised at my own initial reaction. First would be the “auto pilot” phase of numbness…just going through the motions. It would probably take me awhile to come to grips with the reality of the loss and destruction in both the spiritual and natural, human realms. Dealing with grief and shock is a very personal journey.

    Things that come to mind are the different reactions of the two thieves on the crosses beside Jesus. And what about the reactions of Job and his wife…one accepts, the other curses and mocks. What about Peter who reacts to the capture of Jesus by denying and cursing…then repenting with tears.

  3. swwagner says:

    All disasters feel like the “end of the world” to those who are directly involved…things will never be the same as before. My prayers go out to these victims.

  4. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends —

    Can only try on intellectually the notion that the young mother could make such a wise decision — informed in that split second by anything other than Providence.

    Find it impossible to imagine any influence other than God with the benevolence, wisdom, mercy and sovereignty to preserve and not destroy life. Though the young mother seems to “admire faith,” she probably is embarassed to think of praying, since she may “believe” that only she herself can hear such communication as “Help! Show me which way to go!” That is, that when a person prays, it only stays in his/her head — that it does not go out to the source of thought, voice, life.

    I agree, Mart, it would be interesting to get acquainted with the little family that has been preserved through utter destruction to enjoy the gift of life together. The problem for me of turning one’s back upon the Giver of Life is that I then would stand in my own shadow facing eternal darkness.


  5. foreverblessed says:

    God had His eyes on us way before we repented and believed in Him, He was good to us long before, and so He is now to those who do not yet seek Him. Thank God for His mercy, and I pray that I can see with His eyes more and more.

  6. foreverblessed says:

    I have been away for some time, I sent a comment in the former topic: the view from there.

  7. Mart De Haan says:

    foreverblessed, just read your comments in the last post. Am glad you’re back, and appreciate the thoughts you had while being away.

  8. poohpity says:

    Job, who was very strong in faith said to his wife after all the losses they experienced, “Shall we receive only pleasant things from the hand of God and never anything unpleasant.” (Job 2:10 NLT) I believe that Job lost all his children do to a tornado in Job 1:18-19 NLT; Job did not find joy in the happenings but was overwhelmed with grief and sorrow but in it all still held strong to his faith in God. We were promised that there will be all kinds of things that will happen during our life times but God is there. He may not take horrible things away but seems to be very faithful in helping us get through them.

    I do not think I would say to one God protected you and to the other God did not, I do not believe that is how things work. God did give us a brain and as some reporters have asked, “why did you build a home here when you knew tornadoes happened all the time?” I heard another reporter ask, “what stopped you knowing that you lived in tornado alley from building a safe room?”.

    It is so easy to blame God for letting destruction happen but not blame Him for the compassion that so many are there with hugs, prayers, listening ears, providing food, blankets, shelter, donating funds, rescue and the rebuilding. Probably most did not even give God a second thought until now but knowing God there is weeping going on with all those who are mourning filled with compassion and strength to get through all this. John 11:35

  9. poohpity says:

    forever, you were missed and enjoyed your comment on the last topic. :-)

  10. poohpity says:

    It seems this topic blends in with the last about one’s perspective, how we view God and the circumstance in life.

  11. cbrown says:

    The media is used by the devil to present the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.It is pervasive in our society and most people spend hours chained to it. Mathew 4:4, Mathew 4:7 and Mathew 4:10 are Jesus’ response to the devil.

  12. kingdomkid7 says:

    I am a bit perplexed by the use of the word “blame” here. Mart, you say the young woman doesn’t “blame” people who thank God for safely bringing them through the tornado, and you don’t “blame” the young woman or others like her who don’t thank God. I probably could use some clarification on the word and how it is being used. Are you talking about “finding fault,” which is a dictionary definition of the verb “to blame?”

  13. oneg2dblu says:

    or to be used as giving merit perhaps

  14. oneg2dblu says:

    like blaming the goodness of God for all His Creation…

  15. oneg2dblu says:

    Claudia… you took the words right out of my mind/mouth, To all those who now claim they do not know Him… I say,”Not yet!”
    It is written…
    “Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

    Some have already and some not yet!

    Prayers for both sides, for every beating heart, and every living soul.

  16. poohpity says:

    The latest reports on the news is that the total number of deaths is 24, 10 of those were children. Not very good news but less than originally thought. That alone is a miracle when seeing all the devastation. May the Lord comfort them in their losses.

  17. AmazedbyHis grace says:

    I find it amazing that one could be so hard hearted that you can’t not see how the Lord blesses us at different times in our lives. Whether it be as simple as recognizing He opened the bud of the rose or complex such as we see in near deaths, it’s obvious. Running parallel with that, how can we not see and repent from sin in our lives when we know we are not on the right path. What is worse?

  18. cathyol07 says:

    We are all equal in the sight of the Lord.But i still love to hear people thank God for their survival.When events like this occurred what first came to mind of the many is Jesus.

  19. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends —

    The witness of the aftermath of the Moore OK tornado is a prayer to the Creator God! Praising, praying, weeping, thanksgiving, mourning, sending words of encouragement, sending funds and in-kind gifts…Even the young mom and her choice not to believe in God as she stands amidst the rubble — a clear witness of the working of the Lord.

    Mart, you wrote:
    “In this case, the mother added that she does not blame some for thanking the Lord. I’d love to know her story. Choices to believe, or not to believe, and then to express them standing in the middle of such devastation—don’t just happen.”

    It seems to me we have all prayed for her — body, mind and spirit — for further blessing and kindness and comfort. Ruth Graham Bell wrote, “They may resist our ministry, our pleading and our persuasion — but they cannot resist our prayers.” (an approximate quote by me) Yours, Maru

  20. pegramsdell says:

    Proverbs 15:3 says:
    The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
    keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

    There is no way to escape Him, He sees everything.
    He didn’t want those children to suffer.
    He has them safe in His arms right now.

  21. poohpity says:

    Just an observation. It seems lately there is this us and them mentality in many areas. In politics, nationality, social status and sadly enough in Christian circles. We all, the children of the earth, no matter what their beliefs are loved by God. It is not an us and them and as long as we have that type of thinking we draw lines that separate rather than finding things we have in common. We have in common humanity.

    God blesses everyday, every hour and every minute. Being able to recognize those blessings even in the midst of sorrow, now that is truly the real blessing. Those that suffered through this storm seem to have recognized that it is not houses, cars, or stuff but just taking a breathe and seeing members of their families and community being alive that they are finding reasons to be grateful. Being knocked down and getting back up again with the compassion, help and love coming from outside their immediate communities and from within shows our commonality in humanity.

    Sometimes blessings come in what we see as storms.

  22. remarutho says:

    As I recall, having read Mrs. Graham’s book about an age ago, she was reminiscing about praying for her children!(Confessions of a Pack-Rat is the title)

    All are sons and daughters of God — not all the little dears see it that way. :o) Thank heaven the door is propped open (Revelation 3:7, 8) in these days of grace! Maru

  23. SFDBWV says:

    A couple dozen years ago the brain trust we have in control of the publics money decided on an action called “Hazard Mitigation”.

    What this means is that the government buys out peoples homes and farms that remain in an area of repeated flooding and so prevent people from enduring floods in those areas ever again and save the government money by FEMA responsibilities.

    I watched an interview between a BBC news anchorwoman and a man whom I think is a representative of some nature to the Moore OK area. In the interview the BBC interviewer ask why people would live in an area known for such violent weather.

    The gentleman explained that the area wasn’t populated by people who knew of such weather, but rather by people who were offered free land by the Government in an attempt to populate the west and aid in the growth of the nation.

    The pioneer spirit of these people still exists today, they endure the hardships of life as a way of life, bury their dead hold a little tighter to the ones they still have with them and continue on. The truth is, what else can they or any of us do, but morns, give thanks and keep moving forward?

    The one thing pioneer people learned is that they may live in a spirit of independence, but the also recognize the importance of needing each other and helping each other to not only survive, but to endure.

    I think such behavior is in concert with Jesus’ teaching whether one recognizes that or not.

    In the movie “God’s and Generals” Confederate General Jackson is talking with another general that was dying from wounds he had received; Jackson referenced God in trying to comfort his dying comrade when the dying man said “General Jackson you know I am an unbeliever”, whereby Jackson simply said, “well, I will just have to believe enough for the both of us.”

    Blame sometimes is like an opinion, too close to a judgment and one to avoid when one can.


  24. remarutho says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Steve!

    The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) is not a perfect bowl of apples, pears and grapes. Rather, it is muddy boots and rain-gear by the door of a soup kitchen.

    Sometimes we dig in, put our shoulder to it and push harder. Praying for Congress, Syria and the Boy Scouts is like that: hard work.


  25. poohpity says:

    Blame takes the ability of not being responsible for our own actions away from us. It seems to be the fault of the other person when one gets angry, embarrassed, sins, or even experiences suffering. The devil made me do it, you make me angry are just a few members of the blame game. I made the choice of doing something or I responded in anger takes the responsibility back to admit to the action and then to make a change. I agree about opinions being close to a judgement and it would be nice if they both were avoided. It does take a lot of hard work to stop both.

  26. SFDBWV says:

    We are beginning the Memorial Day weekend with a cold wet Friday, it dipped to 39 a while ago and they are calling for a freeze tonight.

    Decoration Day as it used to be called originated for the USA as a day to remember the war dead from the American Civil War.

    Now it is called Memorial Day and as we remember the war dead we also decorate the graves of all our loved ones and all veterans who have passed on.

    Passed on.

    That is an often used term for dying even by *atheist’s*.

    The great question that every person of every nationality and language have debated and have to face sometime is what happens to our conscious *self* when this body can no longer continue to live.

    Mythology abounds with ideas as well as new age occultists. That final frontier.

    Jesus of Nazareth is the only person that His followers laid claim that He not only came back from death, but came back with a new eternal body one that can not die.

    It is that *hope* that Jesus offers to all who believe *on* Him, not just *in* Him, that separates believers from non believers.

    I am the caretaker to our town’s cemetery, nothing is as sad as a funeral for an unbeliever, for there is little anyone can say except *goodbye*.

    There is a trap though in giving thanks to God for every thing, some may feel if we thank Him then we have to attach responsibility when He doesn’t save, since in that thinking, He controlled the event; a thin small step from *judging* God’s actions or lack of.

    Floods, tornados, hurricanes and the like all termed as *acts of God* by insurance companies and in litigation.

    As one fellow was quoted by the press emerging from his shelter and looking around, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.” A quote from Job.

    Perhaps tonight or tomorrow Mart will change the subject, either way I hope to see all of you tomorrow.


  27. poohpity says:

    What I get from it kept in context and knowing that it is the name of the Lord that will be praised not the devastating circumstances. Job saying when he came into the world with nothing that is they way he will return to the earth. No matter what is in our hands it is the name of the Lord that will be praised. Job 1:21 VOICE

    I would like to share an experience I had this weekend after my son’s baptism at his church. I went up to the stage after the service to receive prayer and approached the woman who was signing for the deaf to give me direction as to where to go. She immediately told me she was unable to pray with me because the others were trained in how to do that. I would just like to encourage anyone that praying is talking to God and it does not take flowery words or any training to approach God on behalf of others. Everyone seemed to busy so I left to share my son’s day but I felt very sad how that was handled. Am I being to sensitive?

  28. remarutho says:

    I don’t think you are, Pooh. We are rejoicing with you over here at the baptism of your son! The circle of God’s love is unbroken. For the sign-language interpreter — sometimes a missed blessing at one time becomes a welcomed blessing the next time. May the spirit of prayer overtake her and give her great joy.

  29. cbrown says:

    It want make the nightly news and so probably isn’t on point to this topic but last night I went to one of our state prisons of which we have many and 50 percent of the prisoners in the cell block have a daily devotional with “Our Daily Bread”. They either get it from their Chaplain or receive it in the mail directly from RBC ministries. I Praise God for RBC ministries. If you have time get in the battle. Pray for the neighbor whose wife left. Go down and volunteer at the City Rescue Mission,the church vacation bible school, or the prison ministry and unless you are headed out there to help those in need look next door because they probably are in need also. I promise you that if you seek God you will find him There.

  30. poohpity says:

    cbrown, every time we walk out our door we are in God’s mission field and sometimes within our own homes. Been in the battlefield for 24 years and Lord willing will be for as long as I am still in this body. God is not hard to find, He was never lost. We were the ones lost. You can be part of RBC ministries by donating to their mission.

    Thank you Maru and Claudia!!

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