How many times have I read or watched a news report about the devastation, caused by a tornado in some part of the country? Dozens maybe. I might have paused for a while, to think about the unimaginable power of the violent winds, or pondered what it would be like to lose everything I own in a storm, or I might have remarked how sad it was that a number of people lost their lives… over there.
This time it was different. This time a friend of mine–and two of his children–died.
My family and I lived in Little Rock, Arkansas, for two years. Pulaski County, one of the places where the tornado touched down on Sunday evening, was the county I lived in. The place I am looking at now on the news, is a place I used to call home.
This time, I also know what it’s like to experience the fear of a tornado. During my time in Little Rock, my family and I took shelter, on more than one occasion, in our hallway, after hearing a tornado siren. One night the winds howled so fiercely, that all 5 of us crawled into a small tub and covered ourselves with a mattress. I still remember rehearsing the gospel with my children and urging them to examine their hearts…just in case.
And this time, I actually knew one of the families that were visited by death. The Tittle family attended the church I served and were active members there.
Rob Tittle and two of his daughters, Tori and Rebekah, lost their lives in the storm on Sunday night. Rob was a fun loving guy and had a contagious smile. He joined our student ministry for “lock-outs”, would always volunteer his van for trips and served faithfully in different church events. His daughters were always kind and respectful and whenever I spoke with them, it was obvious that they were raised in a Christian home, and they knew their Bibles.
Rob worked for Family Life and both he and his wife Kerry, were well known in the homeschool community. I still remember receiving a short children’s book on John Calvin when I attended my first homeschool meeting in Little Rock, and to my surprise it was actually written by Kerry Tittle.
The Tittles owned and operated Reformation Kidz, an online bookstore devoted to introducing a new generation to the heroes of the faith.
Out of all the places for a tornado to touch down in Little Rock, why the Tittles’ home? Not only were 3 out of 11 family members taken but their entire two story home was reduced to the concrete foundation it was built on.
Was God caught off guard? Did He not know?
Was God aware but just powerless to prevent this disaster? Was He not able?
Or was God so preoccupied with some other place in the universe, that He ignored the inevitable path of the storm? Did He not care?
A god, that does not know, is not able or does not care, is a small and pathetic deity, who is not worthy of worship, adoration or trust. Ultimately a small god can offer no comfort for what happened on Sunday night. None.
The only God sufficient for a Big Storm is a Big God — The omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent and omnibenevolent God of the Bible. He hasn’t lost control. He is the One who has “established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). He is the One who declares “the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done” (Isaiah 46:10). He is “God Almighty” (Genesis 17:1) who fills “the heavens and the earth” (Jeremiah 23:24). And He is also the One who is the “Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). What comfort would a small god be able to offer anyone?
My heart grieves for the Tittle’s loss. I can’t even begin to imagine what the family is facing now and what they will face in the days to come. My thoughts and prayers have continually turned to them since Sunday. The only comfort that I can offer them is a God who is Big enough for Big Storms. And the encouraging news is… they already know Him.
I ran across this FaceBook post written by Emily, Rob’s 19-year-old daughter who survived the tornado, “… my mom, and my six brothers/sisters are alright. We have lost three of our family … Dad, Tori and Rebekah, prayers would be appreciated. The house is gone stripped from the foundation. The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes away, Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”
You can visit www.bclr.org for more information.