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Saturday, May 27, 2017
The Anniversary of the Jarrell Tornado - Memorial and Thoughts
Psalms 148:7-8 Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word:
Today, May 27th 2017, marks the twenty year anniversary of the deadly Jarrell, Texas tornado and the other tornadoes and storms that broke out in central Texas that day.
I decided to make a post in memory of the event and the 28 people who died that day because this occurred in the county in which we live. We did not live here at the time, but one brother and my sister were weather buffs and also we had friends living in the area at the time, so we knew about it and it was the storm by which many other storms were measured for a long time in our family. Probably it still is.
Here is the video put together by the National Weather Service. It does not contain any footage that I consider to be traumatic or overly terrifying. (If you wish to see stuff like that, you'll have to find it yourself. There will probably be more "recommended" at the end of this video. Know that I do not control those, so if you continue looking you do so at your own risk. Some of it may be very disturbing to some people.)
Here is the web page put together by the National Weather Service:
Jarrell Tornado Anniversary
Quote from article: "A deadly severe weather episode unfolded across portions of Central Texas during the afternoon and evening hours on Tuesday, May 27th, 1997. This event was made infamous by one of the most powerful tornadoes on record: an F5 which tore through a subdivision of Jarrell called Double Creek Estates in extreme northern Williamson County during the mid-afternoon. Some of the most extreme damage on record occurred with this tornado, and one account states that “the earth was scoured bare, pavement was ripped from roadways, [and] homes and other buildings were completely pulverized” (Lon Curtis, Weather Bulletin). Two tornadoes also touched down in the Austin Metro area: an F3-rated tornado in Cedar Park and an F4-rated tornado near Lakeway.
"..over the course of roughly six hours, 20 tornadoes touched down across the Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin/San Antonio forecast areas of responsibility."
Events like this are very difficult to understand from a human perspective. The loss of life and property, the horror of the aftermath, and the incredible power of nature in its most violent forms are hard to deal with humanly. We wonder why God allows things like this to happen.
For my own part, I don't have a comforting answer that will set all the questions at rest. I kind of doubt that anyone does. There are a few thoughts that come to mind, though.
One is, Isaiah 55:8-9, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As hard as it is for us to accept this, sometimes we have no other way to turn except to acknowledge that we don't think like God does. Someday we may learn some reason for things like this or we may not. Ultimately, we have to accept that the Lord is in control, even when bad things happen, and we can't always expect to explain everything He does. If we could, He wouldn't be God.
Another reason for things like this may be that the earth's weather patterns, and even its contours, have changed since the Great Flood in Noah's day. It may be that there are laws of nature that have come into play now that were not present when the earth was watered with a mist before the Flood (Gen. 2:6). Of course, God still is ultimately in control, but He also has set laws of nature and life in motion which we cannot avoid.
Now, I am aware that there are people in this world who will try to blame events like this on conspiracies. They will accuse the government or some other entity of "messing with the weather" and so forth, in order to explain things that seem too abnormal for them to comprehend. First of all, I refer you to point one - we will never understand God's thinking as long as we are on this earth - "under the sun" as Solomon called it. But, furthermore, even if there are "conspiracies" of this sort, God is still in control. There is no entity great or more powerful than He is, and so to live in fear of those things is wasteful at best, sinful at worst. Hebrews 13:5-6 ...for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
Matthew 5:44-45 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
The Lord gives good weather blessings to both the just and the unjust - sunshine and rain, the things necessary to produce food and so much of life's necessities. But, the opposite is true as well. He allows tragic natural disasters to come to both the unjust and the just.
Some people will say that these events are always the judgment of God on unrighteous people. This may occasionally be true, but only in situations where a very clear target has been singled out. Most of the time, though, this isn't likely or plainly isn't true. We know that because things like this happen to both the just and the unjust. Church buildings and brothels are destroyed, Bourbon Street and the homes of Christian families, grocery stores and schools, bars and restaurants that belong to Christians. God is no respecter of persons in such situations. Yes, He sometimes gives some of His children special care and deliverance, but other times He uses such events to "hit the reset button" on their lives, so to speak. Having so much of one's possessions destroyed in a tornado or hurricane or flood or earthquake does force one to start over. Even more, at times the Lord uses something like this to take His own children home to Himself.
2 Kings 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. [Please note that Elijah went up into heaven in a whirlwind, not in a chariot of fire.]
Some years ago, one older Christian couple in Tennessee died together in a tornado near the town of Crossville. Their children concluded that the Lord allowed them to die together because they could not have lived apart from each other had they died separately as most couples do. How could they view it that way?
It all comes down to faith. Ultimately, we have to accept that God does things we don't understand. He allows the natural course of His natural laws to play out sometimes in ways that are tragic from our point of view. And, as with so many things in life, He allows His children to experience some of the same tragedies that the world does so that they can extend His comfort and compassion to others. If nothing bad ever happened to Christians most people would want to be one only for the "protection policy," not from true repentance and faith in the Lord. Is that not so?
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
So, this is where we have to lay down our frustrations and vain strivings to understand what God is doing and just say with Job, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him..." Job 13:15 And also say as Nebuchadnezzar did after his conversion, "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" Daniel 4:35