Sickness, Sovereignty, and the 2004 Tsunami

Last week marked the nineteenth anniversary of one of the deadliest disasters in modern history. On December 26, 2004, an enormous tsunami generated by the largest recorded earthquake sent waves, some 100 feet high, racing across the Indian Ocean at 500 mph—the speed of a jet plane. This Indonesia earthquake shifted the earth so much it changed our planet’s rotation.[1] 

John Leake from Courageous Discourse provides more detailsHis article struck a chord because I have friends visiting there now who were also there when the 2004 tsunami hit. While I don’t understand why God allows such pain and loss, I do know He is still our ever-present help. 

I wrote about God’s protection of my friends Susan and Navaka in my book Little Women, Big God. Here is an excerpt I hope will encourage you.

Have you ever mistaken God’s providence for “bad luck”?

Sometimes we mistake God’s providence for “bad luck.” I’m sure that’s how my friends Susan and Navaka felt when they couldn’t enjoy a beach resort on their vacation. In 2004, while visiting Sri Lanka, terrible stomach cramps sent Susan to the emergency room. Even with medicine, she couldn’t shake them. Reluctantly, they canceled their much-anticipated trip to the beach. As soon as they changed plans, Susan’s stomach calmed down. 

While they visited a nearby site, the beach they had planned to enjoy became part of one of the deadliest disasters in recorded history. Over 230,000 people in fourteen countries lost their lives to deadly tsunamis.[2]

God used an illness to protect Susan and Navaka. He used hunger to draw biblical Ruth into the field of her kinsman-redeemer. God uses everyday situations to propel us into his perfect plan. Sometimes we need the perspective of time to recognize his hand. Have you felt abandoned by God? One day, you will see how his hand led you through this life, and you will stand amazed. 

These photos were taken this December on Susan and Navaka’s trip to the coast the Tsunami hit nineteen years ago. God’s story is not over. As with any good book, some things don’t make sense until the last chapter. Until then, our role is to trust God with our disappointments. He is at work in your life just as he was for Susan, Ruth, and Naomi.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB

Last week marked the nineteenth anniversary of one of the deadliest disasters in modern history. Be encouraged by how God saved this couple from disaster. #Grace Share on X

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Ladies, an online Bible study on Neil Anderson's book Thriving Through the End Times starts January 9th. Regester now. #Biblestudy. Share on X

Has God’s provision for you ever looked like bad luck?

Comment here.




[2] “2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami,” Wikipedia,

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  1. Michele Morin

    Amazing providence!
    Amazing God!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Amen! Happy New Year, Michele!

  2. Linda Stoll

    Dear Debbie, there’s so much I’ll never be able to figure out, understand, or discern. So much makes absolutely no sense to my very limited mind. I’m learning slowly to trust God with it all. He’s been so faithful, His character so holy, just, loving, and kind. He knows what’s deep in every heart and mind. He is the judge and jury. He knows the end of the story. And that gives me peace.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Linda, I too draw comfort knowing the Judge of the earth always does right. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Katherine Pasour

    Thank you for this inspiring message that reminds us that God is always with us, no matter the situation. May God continue to bless your ministry, Debbie, and wishing you good health and happiness in 2024.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Thank you, Katherine. God bless you in this coming year and grant favor on your ministry and health.

  4. Ann Musico

    What a beautiful and powerful reminder that he is always working for our good and His glory!! Happy New Year Debbie!

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Love these stories of God’s working. The backstory is Susan’s mother was praying everyday for her while she was away. Happy New Year to you, Ann!

  5. Barbara Latta

    I’m so thankful your friends were spared that tragedy. As the earth groans with birth pangs waiting for the redemption we also wait for (Romans 8:22), we do have to endure some of that “labor.” But God is faithful to fulfill His Word, “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all you ways.” (Psalm 91:11)

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Barbara, I’ve thought of that passage in Romans 8 a lot lately. Thank you.

  6. Deborah

    Debbie, what a wonderful example of God’s protection and providence. Blessings to you and Happy New Year!

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Deborah, I love hearing stories of God’s work in our everyday lives. Thank you.

  7. Yvonne Morgan

    Thanks for this message Debbie. I try hard not to think of anything as luck but look to our Heavenly Father behind all the blessings. Happy New Year Debbie

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Yvonne, I know what you mean. Seeing God’s loving hand in our lives and trusting His care when we don’t see it brings peace.

  8. J.D. Wininger

    Well said Ms. Debbie. We often can’t understand why something happens in our lives that seems to derail our plans. Perhaps that’s the key though, isn’t it? They are/were our plans and not God’s plan for us. I think of how many times I’ve been upset because I’m delayed from leaving to go somewhere, or missed flights, etc. to see an accident that had I left on time, I could have been caught up in. Or how many times had I delayed (when I wanted to) a flight, it could’ve ended in disaster (9/11/2001 comes to mind for me, flying into Boston on the evening of 9/10 instead). Later, we can see how God’s sovereign hand showed mercy and grace in our lives. What a humbling reminder of Isaiah 55:8-9 ma’am. God’s blessings.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      J.D., my husband is better at not getting frustrated at delays than I am. He reminds me God may be sparing us from something. A friend’s grandmother overslept as a young woman and missed the train she was to take to visit her grandmother. That train had a terrible accident with no survivors. I think the bridge gave way. The grandmother awaiting the arrival of her granddaughter heard the news of the accident and was panicking when her granddaughter called to say she was sorry she’d overslept. My friend wouldn’t have been born if this woman had made the train. I’m glad you flew in on the 10th and not the 11th!

  9. Jeannie Waters

    The story you shared is a perfect example of God’s grace and sovereignty. Debbie, my husband is facing bypass surgery, so I appreciate this encouraging post.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Jeannie, may the Lord bring you peace and grant healing to your husband. I just returned from visiting my sister who is recovering from bypass surgery that had been complicated by other issues. It was so good to be with her. I’m thankful we live in a time of modern medicine.

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