People are dead, including children. Whole neighborhoods are utterly destroyed, brought down to foundations and rubble. People are injured, traumatized, bereft. And there is no one to blame. No bomber, no shooter, no mad man or terrorist. Simply an “act of God.”
How I hate that phrase, act of God. As if God would come down from the clouds to smite a town out of, what, spite? Vengeance? God does not cause weather events, not out of a need to punish infidels and homosexuals, and not because he needed to call his children home to be with him. You will not find God in the great wind, any more than Elijah did.
No, you will find God in the people who keep calling to find out if their friends and neighbors are OK, in the parents who struggle to assure their children that they are safe, in those who sit at the side of those who mourn, in the mourners themselves. God is in the search and rescue dogs who are tirelessly moving house by house, searching for the scent of the missing, and in their tired handlers who volunteered and trained for this expert, grueling work. God is in the hospital staff tending the wounded and in the family members who wait and wait, hoping their loved one will be OK. God is in the first responders who are still hoping to find children alive and for those who have to carry still figures from the wreckage. God is in the people around the world sending their prayers and their love out to people they will never meet and the people who send their money to the Red Cross or animal rescue groups because it’s the only way they can think of to help.
And yes, God is in the people who dare to point out that while any given weather event is just weather, however tragic, a pattern of more and more extreme weather—the droughts, heat, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, one after the other—that pattern is not an act of God. That pattern is predicted by scientists who study climate change. Which is not an act of God. It is the consequence of a string of human choices. God is not in the droughts and the floods and the tornadoes. God is in the scientists who keep telling the truth when it seems no one is paying attention. God is in the all the people who are trying to limit their use of fossil fuels, in the companies and schools and churches who have invested in solar panels, in the environmental groups calling for meaningful legislation.
God is not in the wind. God is in all the people who see the suffering that is, and the suffering to come, and who choose compassion and justice and the hope of a better world.