Oklahoma Tornado and the Question of Suffering

The devastating tornado in Oklahoma ripped open the hearts of those affected as surely as it tore apart their homes. A man turns to stare at a pile of rubble, “I finished paying off my house last week. I’m lucky though, my family is safe. But I lost everything else—including three animals.”

But the young family who ran for safety—and didn’t make it—the death of children, spouses…are incomprehensible losses.

The tornado was the most massive loss last week, but not the only one. I received three emails concerning different people’s deaths. Another friend with cancer called in hospice.

Why, why all this suffering? I know the theological answer. Suffering is the Siamese twin of sin. Sin cursed the world, and so we—nature included—groan, waiting for our redemption.

I want more.

Understanding evades me, but I remember Eccles. 7:2, (NIV). “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting …”

Could mourning teach us how to live?

I think about the non-fiction writers I’ve become acquainted with. Many write from their pain.

  • Sarah Kovac writes how she learned to live fully in spite of (or because of) her birth defect.
  • Don Brobst helps us cherish our marriages, because his wife died from cancer.
  • Yvonne Ortega, a cancer survivor, helps those going through cancer.
  • Cecil Murphy writes to male survivors of sex abuse.
  • Elisabeth Klein Corcoran shares wisdom on domestic abuse.

Mourning provided the wisdom they share with us. Entering their brokenness—instead of running from it—gave them a ministry that makes them—and us—whole.

I remember listening to a counseling client’s story and feeling a profound sense of gratitude that I understood her pain. My thoughts surprised me. But, I knew I got what she was saying because of my losses. Suffering had carved a depth of understanding I couldn’t have gained from a book or a course. And from that reservoir I offered her hope.

Paul put it this way: “3-5 All praise to the … Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

8-11 … We felt like … it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally…” (2 Cor. 1:8-11, MSG)

I still don’t understand why some people have to suffer so much. But I know God comes along side the one who hurts and that experience transforms all who welcome Him.

Dear heavenly Father, may Your mercy comfort those who are suffering in Oklahoma and around the world.

Question: How has suffering benefited you?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Debbie Wilson

Deborah W. Wilson

Photo By: The National Guard

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  1. Valarie

    Thank you my Dear friend for reminding me of why we suffer. Sometimes I think we all have a thorn in our sides of some sort, and having to deal with it does remind us of God’s mercy and Love. It actually causes me to shoot rockets of desire for more of God’s Love in my heart and to help others. But that thorn doesn’t come close to the catastrophes around the world and here in our country, the broken hearts. I pray that they will trust God and know that there is a purpose for everything. I love you Debbie, and appreciate your dedication to the ministry!

  2. Debbie

    Valarie, thanks for your comment. It reminds me that suffering does remind us of God’s mercy and love. Jesus willingly suffered so we can know God’s love fully. What amazing love.

    • Debbie

      Kelly, thanks for sharing. I appreciate your blog thoughts. God’s eternal perspective gives me hope.

  3. Caroline Gavin

    Debbie, God bless you and your heart for Him! This is an absolutely beautiful reflection on the question of suffering. I agree completely that suffering is a corollary to sin. Although we oftentimes “want more” in terms of answers, it is comforting to know that God is the Master of converting trials to triumphs and crosses to crowns. The Cross of Christ is our Bridge to Heaven, and we travel in part that Bridge by taking up our own crosses. Praise God that He will obliterate sin, and “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Thank you for sharing Scriptural insights and heartfelt compassion. God’s graces and my gratitude to you…

  4. Lindsey Bell

    I think suffering can do one of two things: lead us to the arms of God or push us away from Him. After my fourth miscarriage in 2 years, I at first pushed away from him. I didn’t understand how a loving Father could allow that into my life. But finally, I’m learning to lean into him. He allowed it, yes, (and I’ll probably never understand why), but that doesn’t mean he’s left my side. If I’ll let him, he’ll use it to make me into the woman he wants me to be.

    Good post. Thanks for sharing on the Blythe Daniel FB page:)

    • Debbie

      Lindsey, Your response to pain—withdraw from the One who could have prevented the pain—is so natural. I’m thankful God recorded so many stories of real people in the Bible whose stories seem a senseless mess in the middle but turn out into an awesome wonder. Some things won’t make sense until eternity. I’m glad you’re back to leaning on Him. I’ve wrestled too. I believe those experiences strengthen us in the end. Like God asking Abraham to offer Isaac, these tests expose our hearts so we can grow or see how much we’ve grown. Thanks so much for sharing. May God bless.

  5. Marianne


    I’ve learned that suffering is NOT from God, but that God can and does work ALL things together for good if we let Him.

    I’m praying for those who are suffering in Oklahoma and around the world to seek God because He knows the ultimate suffering of putting His only Son to death for us. He knows our pain and He also has the only prescription for pain that has no negative side effects.

    Have a Victorious Day!

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