Why did God let People Die in the Joplin Tornado?

Why Did These People Die?

Posted by danieljkoren on May 27, 2011 in Devotional |

Headline news for the day told of innocent people whom the governor had killed. People began to talk, “Anyone who dies suddenly like that must have done something to deserve it. God doesn’t treat good people that way.”

Jesus said, in so many words, “Do you think that because these Galileans were killed that way, they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? Not at all! And if you do not turn from sin, you will all die, too.” (see Luke 13:1-3)

So people who die in tragedies do not deserve it? What about the preachers saying that the tsunamis and earthquakes are God’s judgment on us? Sure, maybe the murdered people Jesus was talking about were not worse sinners than anyone else, but what about when unexplainable tragedies happen—that must be the hand of God against them, right?

Jesus brought up another top news story of the hour concerning 18 people who suddenly died when a building collapsed on them. He asked, “Do you suppose this proves that they were worse than all the other people living in Jerusalem?” (Luke 13:4 GNB).

Most religious zealots today would say, “Yes!” Some would picket the site of this tragedy with signs saying, “God hates sinners! Repent!”

Did this happen because these people deserved it? Jesus answered, “No indeed! And I tell you that if you do not turn from your sins, you will all die as they did.” (Luke 13:5 GNB).

Insecure people cast judgment quickly

Many are asking why God would let people die in the recent Joplin, Mo. tornado. Issues with small man syndrome in each of us cause us to point our finger at others who are less fortunate beside whom we feel bigger somehow. Too many Christians are like the Levite and priest in Jesus story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). Conservative religious folk paint themselves perfect as they cross to the other side of the road, saying, “He had it coming to him.”

While driving into tornado-torn Joplin to help those in need, we saw a man standing beside the road with a sign reading, “REPENT.” My son asked why he was doing that. I tried to be nice and told him the man wanted people to think about Jesus in this time when people have died and get their lives right.

My son said, “If he is a Christian, why isn’t he out helping someone fix their roof?” I had to agree.

People who exploit tragedy to point out others’ weaknesses are bold-letter illustrations of judgmental thinking. These fanatics sin by condemning others. Only One judges us. The weather is not our judge. Acts of nature are not our judge. Earth is groaning under sin and experiencing the labor pains that must come before the new creation is born (Romans 8:22).

If the tornado was judgment on Joplin, then why are San Francisco, LA, and NYC still standing?

Mercy rejoices over judgment

Jesus Christ is our Judge and He hasn’t even scheduled the first hearing yet. The Day of Judgment comes at the end of time. Judgment Day is too big to fit on your calendar. No hurricane, tornado, nuclear meltdown, or blizzard could accomplish His judgment. We should not fear the people or things in this life that can destroy our bodies. We should fear Him who can destroy our souls in hellfire. That is God’s judgment and fortunately no one has experienced it yet.

We are not authorized to ask God why people died by the possible hundreds in Joplin’s tornado or thousands in other disasters. If anything, tragedies in our time are acts of God’s mercy. During these times, living people become more serious about their walk with God. Even in places where public prayer is banned, people call on the name of Jesus Christ during and after tragedies.

No one is righteous enough to escape tragedy. While we have opportunity, let us live for Him, for we never know our appointed time (Hebrews 9:27). Judgment Day comes after you die. Until then, let this be your commitment:

While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. (Psalms 146:2 KJV)



Tags: , , , ,


  • […] God? Why?” When loved ones die or tragedy strikes, we ask the unanswerable questions. “Why me? Why now? Why […]

  • […] to win? Loud-mouth protestors from Westboro Baptist church are among those who show up scenes of devastation, claiming people deserved to die. But all their ranting does not help lost souls any more than […]

  • Keith Cromm says:

    FTR: I am a ‘Conservative religious folk’.

    Luke 13:1-5 is noted in various stages. Was Jesus directly at those incidents holding up a sign that says repent? While no, Jesus also did not sympathize with and/or take on the (basic human emotion of) “I can’t believe they did that!” with them in their discussion . On the contrary, He remained God and 100% stated that they (the ‘there were present at that season some…’), the living, need to repent. He didn’t say “repent” once, He proclaimed it 2 times.

    The guy standing on the road with a sign reading “REPENT” is doing no different than Christ Himself: Calling the physical LIVING to repent, for the dead cannot. Or, shall one having been cast into in Hell proclaim in their defense: “But, Lord, if he wasn’t repairing that roof and, instead holding the ‘REPENT’ sign, I would’ve repented.”

    Christ constantly notes that repentance is for the physically living, not those who died. Case in point Luke 16:23-25, the man, in death (‘being tormented in Hades’) is not redeemed, even with a drop of water.

    It is noted: ‘People who exploit tragedy to point out others’ weaknesses are bold-letter illustrations of judgmental thinking.’ Shall Christians should only show up during joyous times such as weddings, baptisms and birthday parties?

    Again, the one consistent thing Christ does is call the living to repentance (Matt 4:17). At weddings, in general discussion (Luke 13), in visiting cities to proclaim His salvation (Matt 11:20), and even declares, through the story, that in death there is no repentance (Luke 16).

    It is noted: ‘Jesus Christ is our Judge and He hasn’t even scheduled the first hearing yet.’ While, yes, Christ is our Judge, Paul states in Corinthians that we will be judging sinners AND angels (1Co 6:2-3; I conclude it is the angels who fell from Heaven).
    Eternally, God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Another way of saying this is that everything has, is, and will happen, this is because there is no “time” in Heaven; a concept most of us truly can not truly grasp. However, there is no ‘first hearing’, or second, or consecutive for that matter. Judgement in the Eternal “has”, “is”, and “will” occur(ed).

    Is it sad, from our human understanding, that the saints died along with sinners in the tornado? Certainly. Did God bring the tornado about? I mean directly, in that specific instance of time did He reach down from Heaven and twist the wind violently and steer the tornado directly toward the houses wherein He knew who was in there to then cause their death?

    Did not God decree the creation of this earth from all Eternity? Did not God decree physics (e.g., gravity, rains, wind, mass, etc.) from all Eternity, even saying? Did not God decree when and where the waters would stop? (Job 38:11).

    Does God continually whirl His fingers around the 6.3 billion people on this earth to keep them stuck to earth and from floating off into space? Of course not. He decreed gravity from all Eternity.

    In the Eternal perspective, yes, God did bring about the tornado. Just like He brought about you and I, and all people who will ever exist. From our frail, limited, time-constrained human perspective, it is difficult for us to understand and/or comprehend the how, let alone the why, of God allowing anything to occur that is of tragedy.

    2Ki 6:33; 2Ki 22:16; 2Ch 34:24; Jer 1:14; Jer 25:29; Jer 32:42; and of most importance: Isa 45:7

    The Lord our God who is Christ our Savior and comforts us for He is the Holy Spirit does explicitly state that He, and He alone, does “bring peace and make calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.”

    There is none other in Heaven, on earth, or in Hades who does these things. God, in His immutable counsel, “has made known to us (Christians) the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself”. Thus, He HAS NOT made know to non-Christians “the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.”

    “…which He purposed in Himself”. Woah! That is intense. He brings about everything, yes, *EVERYTHING*, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.

    If but one of God’s children (e.g., we, His ‘sheep’, for He is our Shepard, right?) is lost and it is “His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself” to bring that one sheep back to Him, even if others are killed, that is incredibly difficult for us to fathom that He “would do such a thing”.

    Again, we must know and realize that it is only (exclusively) 100% “…His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself”.

    But, it states “He made know to us the mystery of His will?” Shouldn’t we know His will, then? We need to understand that there is a difference between the “mystery *of* His will” and His “will”.
    It should not be a mystery to us, as Christians, that God in and of Himself , that is ‘which He purposed in Himself’, is not a mystery, because His will is done “according to His good pleasure”.

    God did not, does not, nor will not consult with me or anyone else about how to bring about things. No, “He purposed in Himself”.

    God did not, does not, nor will not do things according to our good pleasure. No, it is “according to His good pleasure”.

    This ‘pleasure’ is not the ‘pleasure’ we think of: A great sunny day at the beach with service all around tending to us hand and foot.
    No, “His good pleasure” is His righteous and eternal “pleasure”. It does not “please” (from which “pleasure” is based in) Him that one of His children should suffer eternally.

    While what remains to occur in this life is a mystery to me (that is, His will of what, to us, is our ‘future’ [in time] yet to Him He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow), the mystery of His will, specifically that everything occurs “according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself”, is very clear.

    May you be blessed.

    • danieljkoren says:

      Thank you for sharing your opinion and illustrating your devotion to God’s Word. We both agree that the living should repent and we should encourage repentance in normal life situations, not just tragedy. My argument is that people should not exploit disaster to point fingers at others with an attitude of “I told you so.”
      I am conservative, but I am not one of the “conservative religious folk” who point to the beaten man in the road and say he had it coming to him.
      I doubt “repent” signs around disaster relief areas work as effectively as someone who shows love. The old time prophets proclaimed “Repent!” before the disaster struck. They did it in love, reaching while there was time. If arrogant religious people really knew that catastrophic events were the judgment of God, they should have warned people before it happened.
      You referred to Job. He endured unexpected calamity. Religious know-it-alls showed up to tell him this was the judgment of God. Since the Lord does things in a mystery according to His own purpose, a godly saint could die in an earthquake right next to a wicked sinner. We cannot play God and say why this or that. All we can do is minister to the hurting, help the needy, and share the truth of life in Christ through His name and His Spirit to the living.
      I hope you have contributed to the widows and orphans in Joplin. After all, that is part of perfect religion (James 1:27). Condemning them is not (Matthew 7:1).
      Have you wept beside the broken and the bleeding? Have you pawed through rubble around the spilled blood of a loved one? Have you stretched yourself out of your comfort and logic to share tears with those coping with the senselessness of disaster? Have you wept whole nights for the lost? Has your learning and knowledge lead others into salvation?
      I do not believe the Lord is looking for more announcers to call fumbles and fouls. I think He is looking for players on the field to make many more wins.

  • Keith Cromm says:


    No, I have not contributed to the widows and orphans of Joplin.
    We have such here in our own state of Idaho to whom I contribute. Thank you for asking.

    Have I wept, pawed through rubble, stretched myself out of my comfort zone & share tears, wept whole nights for the lost, and learning/knowledge [God gave to me been used by God to] lead others into salvation?

    Yes. Just these past weeks I have wept and fasted whole days and nights for a lost brother. I have been in the jungles of Yucatan witnessing (‘out of my comfort zone’), worked days on end when the earthquake hit San Francisco, helped a brother in Christ paw through a (small) plane wreck ‘recovering’ his brother, sister-in-law, and 4 children, and combined the hillsides looking for a then-presumed beaten-to-death by his father 8-year old boy (confirmed in autopsy).

    However, I have yet to wept or pawed through blood-laidened rubble for a loved-one, sheading my own tears.

    America, however, is a sinful nation. We have killed over 50 million children in the womb. We (American Christians) have allowed homosexuals to govern our land and pass reprehensible laws.

    We American Christians, while yet in shame, need to weep for one another.

    I will state with of utmost strongest conviction that we, both American and American Christians, deserve nothing less than the wrath of an all-consuming, jealous God, whether that be through tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, gun shots, car crashes, etc.

    Again, though, does our Lord grab 2 vehicles and force them to crash into one another? Does He malicely (sp?) twirl His finger to bring down a tornado?

    My heart wrenches at the thought of tragedies as such, though our Lord decreed the laws of physics which was put into place through the work of the Holy Spirit. Perfect He is and, as such, perfect those laws are, doing only what He sets forth.

    When sin enters in, byt its very nature it will try to wield those laws to its own purpose.

    However, sin (Satan) is only allowed to do with those laws as God decrees, no less and no more.

    Whatever Satan does it will be only “according to His [God’s] good pleasure” “which He purposed in Himself”.

    While we will weep and will be devastated by what sin does, it can only do what God allows it do do. We, in our devastation, will cry out “Why?” We comfort one another.

    Of someone not directly affected by such devastation yet holding a “Repent” sign, while “unloving” as it may seem, nothing less than a miracle must be declared if but one soul is saved as we rejoice with the angels in Heaven.

    Sincerely, though, at the time and place wherein I am of devastation at the loss of a loved one from a tornado or such, it would be the furthest from my mind and seemingly heartless of one holding a “Repent” sign. Yet, I pray only later (and sooner later than later later) that I continue acknowledging God in His sovereignty brings about all things “according to His [God’s] good pleasure” “which He purposed in Himself”.


Comments are closed. Would you like to contact the author directly?

Copyright © 2010-2018 Daniel J. Koren's All rights reserved.
This site is using the Desk Mess Mirrored theme, v2.5, from BuyNowShop.com.

Sharing Buttons by Linksku