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Why God? Why? Clergy respond to difficult questions in storm's aftermath

Local spiritual leaders discuss the difficult theological questions that arise in the aftermath of natural disasters and tragedies.
by Carla Hinton Modified: May 24, 2013 at 5:02 pm •  Published: May 25, 2013

“I think the victims in this instance were victims of circumstance — they lived in a place where a tornado happened.”

Rivers said at Ridgecrest Baptist on Sunday, his sermon will include the topic of recent storm and the way such adversity often compel individuals to seek out the Lord.

“I think the worst thing we can do is abandon God at this point because that's when we need Him the most,” Rivers said. “We should continue to worship Him despite what has happened.”

Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, leader of the Chabad Jewish Center of Oklahoma City, said community members should ask themselves how they need to respond to this crisis at hand.

“The real question is not ‘why did God do this' or ‘did God do this.' The real question is what does God want me to do now with this tragedy that is unfolding in front of my eyes,” he said.

“It is a gift to be able to respond.”

Seeking comfort in God

Pruett said the answers to some of the most difficult life questions are mysteries that the Bible says are beyond human understanding.

The priest, along with Rivers and Lindstrom, said they encourage people to seek God out during times of fear and doubt and suffering.

“In these times of tragedy and crisis, we should draw closer to God and draw solace — not run from God,” Lindstrom said.

And Lindstrom said Oklahomans should look at the overwhelming support being poured upon tornado victims as a symbol of the Lord, not the storm.

“To see people serve and give and reach out to neighbors they may not even know, to see churches, regardless of denomination, come together to serve — that is absolutely amazing. That's where God is in the community,” he said.

Rivers, who also is an Oklahoma City police officer, said the worst circumstances can bring out the best in people, with God's help.

“That overshadows negativity,” he said.

He said times of crisis and tragedy are opportunities to trust in God and His faithfulness. Rivers said that faithfulness sparks hope when answers to troubling questions aren't there.

“James says count it all joy when trials comes. That's when perseverance comes,” Rivers said.

“People experiencing this have an opportunity and insight on who God is because they are trusting in Him from day to day.”

by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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