“Scientists at loss to explain busy, severe tornado season.”
“Scientists at loss to explain busy, severe tornado season.” So read Wednesday’s headline in the South Bend Tribune. “‘Right now we’re on track to break all previous counts through the end of the year,’ said warning meteorologist Greg Carbin at the Storm Prediction Center. And it’s not just more storms. The strongest of those storms—those in the 136-to-200 mph range—have been more prevalent than normal, and lately they seem to be hitting populated areas more, he said.”
Just another fluke of unpredictable Mother Nature? Perhaps. But a week ago I went to www.dlinquist.com to track earthquake frequencies. The graphs begin in 1973 and climb gradually from 5,000 to 10,000 recorded earthquakes per year until 1995, when they spike to between 25,000 to 30,000 quakes per year by 2001 to 2005. 2008, only half through, has already logged around 25,000 seismic events (the most recent, of course, the May 11 national tragedy in China).
Just another fluke on our unpredictable planet? One could so conclude. The massive human catastrophe of the cyclone in Myanmar’s delta region can be explained the same way, no doubt.
But as the AP report about this year’s spike in tornados observed, “The nagging question is why. Global warming cannot really explain what is happening, Carbin said” (Ibid).
At the risk of sounding like Noah, who for 120 years warned civilization of impending disaster (see Genesis 6 and 7), thus risking the taunt of the scoffers who have ever been quick to declare, “‘All things continue as they were from the beginning’” (II Peter 3:4), I am compelled to interject this reminder into the news media’s reporting of the recent spate of natural disasters. Jesus predicted that before his return: “‘There will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the seas and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of the heavens [and the earth—Matthew 24:7] will be shaken’” (Luke 22:25, 26).
Do these disaster spikes prove true Christ’s prediction? Or does his prediction provide the interpretive paradigm for understanding nature’s crescendo? Obviously the answer will depend on the questioner. It is in the accumulation of spikes—natural, economic, political, moral, religious—that the discerning mind of faith hears the call of Christ, “‘Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near’” (Luke 22:28).
And that’s why, unlike the headline, faith is not at a loss to explain its confidence. For its bedrock is not the accumulating global numbers in the end, but rather the person and promise of Christ, “I will come again” (John 14:3). The spiking statistics are simply a reminder that the end of earth’s heartache and misery is nearer than ever before, which is reason enough for faith to hope and love like never before.