From Out of the Whirlwind

What was the first thing that you thought of when you heard a massive tornado had struck Moore, OK, leaving dozens dead, including 9 school children? Likely it wasn't, “I should quote where Job’s kids are killed in a tornado. That is exactly what John Piper tweeted-

Your sons and daughters were eating and a great wind struck the house, and it fell upon them, and they are dead.” (Job 1:19) 

Many saw that as a wee bit insensitive, although I'm not sure but that Piper was just looking for some Bible words that fit the situation.  At any rate, he quickly took down the tweet. The reason that many saw the tweet in a negative light is that Piper has something of a history when responding to similar tragedies. When a tornado hit his hometown of Minneapolis, he attributed it the Evangelical Lutheran Church  convention softening its stance on homosexuality. He’s made similar statements on things like the Asian tsunami (2004) and the Minneapolis bridge collapse (2007).  Read this post by Rachel Held Evans for longer look at some of Piper's past statements on tragic events.

John Piper is perhaps the best known leader in a modern revival of  Calvinism, the doctrine that says that everything that happens is predetermined by an all-sovereign God who gives life and salvation at His whim with no regard for human faith nor repentance. God predestined some people for hell, and He gives them no choice and no room to repent. Jesus didn't even die for them; He only died for the elect-- who themselves have no freedom to reject God’s saving grace. We choose nothing; everything that happens in the world does so because it has been determined by God. So if God wants to kill some kids in Oklahoma for no reason, well then that’s up to Him.  When you are a Calvinist, there can be no explanation for anything that happens in the word other than God did it.

God does indeed speak out of a whirlwind in the book of Job, but it was not the storm that killed Job's children. That tornado was generated by Satan to hurt Job and prove that his faith would buckle under pressure. Sure, God allowed Satan to have free reign, but God most certainly did not plan the tornado. The whirlwind from which God speaks in the Book of Job is at the end where God does come to job, but not with the explanation Job wanted.  God essentially says,

“Job, there is so much that you can’t understand; it should not surprise you that you can’t understand your suffering. Just trust me here.” 

And Job does. And so must we. In times of tragedy and heartache and loss, there are no easy explanations.  All there is faith.

I believe that Piper’s explanation fails precisely because it is an explanation. Sure, I believe it’s an explanation based on false theological presupposition that is wrongly forced on life to explain a tragedy. But it ultimately fails because it tries to explain in human terms the “why” when that is the one thing that human understanding can't handle. Job wanted to understand why. And God spoke from the whirlwind to say, “You can't understand, but you can always trust.” And that’s what we need to do.