As long-time readers know, I have an affinity for the hobby of storm chasing, or at the least storm spotting. I am a certified Skywarn spotter and, although married to someone who thinks I'm nuts, find violent weather to be fascinating.
Please note I said "fascinating" and not "good." There is something awe-inspiring about the power of the whirlwind. And sometimes there is beauty; but all too often, there is death, destruction or pain. I don't want to be a spotter to have an excuse to go out in the rain. I choose to be a spotter because trained spotters can help alert people to get to cover safely when dangerous weather approaches. It's something all the spotters I know take seriously, although for many there is an element of weather geekdom or a thrill/rush in chasing something so unpredictable and powerful.
I say all this to set up this past weekend's events in my city. I live in Coon Rapids, a suburb on the north side of Minneapolis. This past weekend, my family and I went up north to the in-laws' lake home to spend time with my wife's clan. It was highly relaxing and enjoyable up until Sunday evening, when as we were getting ready to have dinner we caught on the news that a tornado had touched down in Coon Rapids. Stories mentioned "Highway 10 and Hanson Boulevard" or "Coon Rapids High School" - both locations within a mile or two of our house. We called a number of friends and family who lived nearby, but nobody answered their phones (many were also out of town.) We didn't know whether to come home and see if our house was still standing, or stay where we were and hope for the best. We chose the latter, and as more stories came out we learned that the tornado likely crossed our city about a mile or so north of us. We also found out another tornado touched down in Hugo, a 'burb of St. Paul, and that one child had died when he was sucked out of his house. It put a damper on the feelings of relief when we returned to find our home intact, and not so much as a hailstone dent in the siding. Dangerous weather in crowded cities can cause tragedy that nobody, not even those of us fascinated by twisters, ever wants to see.
Monday night the tragedy came even closer to home when we found out the little boy who died was the son of Gerard and Christy Prindle, a couple who play in the same community band as my wife. I found this out when I saw the band's director interviewed on the news talking about the story. I haven't met the Prindles, and my wife doesn't know them well at all - but the proximity and familiarity made the story hit harder.
I'm glad there were spotters watching the storms Sunday; warnings were early and many had taken shelter. It could have been worse; but it was bad enough. Why were some homes unscathed and others obliterated? Why did many survive yet the youngest die? Why does God allow such things?
As with the 35W bridge collapse, or recent earthquakes or cyclones, we won't know the reason this side of eternity. I trust God knows best, but that's easier for me to say than for those who've been more directly impacted to hear. All we can and should do at this time is show compassion and provide help and comfort as best we are able. At times like these I can't provide answers, and I can only speculate how I'd handle something like this happening in my own family. I would hope I could praise God even in the storm, but until it happens I don't know. I selfishly hope to never find out. I just can't not think about it at a time like this.
Remember we live in a fallen world; pray for those who suffer. Offer help when you can. And listen for what God may be whispering in the storm.