I’m oddly obsessed with natural disasters. As Jennifer Garner says in one of my favorite movies, “I love natural disasters. I want people to die in them. I am genuinely disappointed when the death toll is low.”
Maybe I don’t want people to die in them (valuing human life is pretty high up there in importance in my religion) but I love to watch them. I love to see the destruction, the desolation, the sheer force with which a good tornado can rip apart our world. [I should include a disclaimer, I don’t love the destruction, I love seeing it…read on and this will make more sense.] I love staring at pictures of the aftermath of a huge hurricane or earthquake, its terrifyingly awesome.
Now that I sound like some wildly deranged person, let me explain. I’ve come to realize exactly why I am so obsessed with natural disasters: they are a chance to start over. They are terrifying, but it is so beautiful to see people come together and rebuild. I think on some level its nice to see in the world what I feel like happens in our daily lives. How many times do we feel like a tornado just ripped through our world? We lose our jobs. The dream job turns out to be the source of seemingly unending pain and torment. The love of our life walks out or dies. Parents get divorced. Children are lost all too soon. Planes fly into buildings, bombs explode. We experience natural disasters everyday, so on some level (for me at least) seeing actual destruction can be healing. We see it, we acknowledge it, we admit it, we accept it…and then we move on. We rebuild.
I like natural disasters because they have the power to take everything we’ve ever known, owned, needed or loved…and they challenge us to keep going. We are destroyed and in our despair we turn to God and with His help, His grace, His love, we rebuild. We start over. Maybe we even build something better than we had before, much like the story of Job. Sometimes we need a natural disaster, a tornado, an earthquake, a hurricane to rip through our lives so that we can start over, plant a garden and let the flowers bloom.
C.S. Lewis says it quite well in his book “A Grief Observed”: “But of course, one must take ‘sent to try us’ in the right way. God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize that fact was to knock it down.“
Let us be knocked down so that, by His grace, we can be rebuilt according to His plan for our lives.