|Death: A Life Tornado
© Betty Sue Eaton
|A Christian Grief Ministry
Every spring, weather patterns become very turbulent. We experience a wide variety of storms
which sweep over the country with fury and sometimes havoc. I grew up in far west Texas
where Spring produced severe thunderstorms, often times generating large hail storms that
pelted everything with rocks of ice from pea size to baseball size and even larger. We once
endured a hailstorm that flung football sized ice boulders down upon us threatening to take the
roof off our home and damaging our vehicles.
When tornado watches and alerts were issued, we cowered in abject fear, eyes scanning the
western skies for that tell-tale anvil shaped cloud soaring to the upper reaches of the
stratosphere. A tornado didn't always result from those billowing clouds, but when they did,
they indiscriminately wreaked havoc with everything in their paths. Many of the residents of
that area had a storm cellar and through the years became very familiar with their haven of
safety in the face of one of Nature's fiercest phenomena. Winds have been measured at over
250 miles per hour! Today, scientists have devised a measurement to classify the ferocity and
damaging ability known as the Fujita Scale. An FS-1 on the scale clocks winds around 75-100
miles per hour, and all the way up the scale to FS-5 with winds of around 250 mph and above
with the most deadly potential of all storms, even hurricanes.
I grew up watching those storms hurtle down upon us and our neighbors, and I developed an
overpowering fear of them. Even today when I should have outgrown my childhood panic at an
anvil shaped cloud, though it might be far away on the horizon and of no danger to me, I still
become very nervous at the possibility of its breaking over me. But there is another kind of
tornado that I dread more: The death of a loved one.
Death can come like a tornado ~ swift and very hurtful leaving our lives in a shambles. And
like a tornado, many times death gives no warning of it imminence. We never expect our loved
ones to leave us, and when they do, it feels like a storm has overtaken us. Like a tornado in
our personal and emotional lives, death wreaks it's own kind of havoc which leaves no
physical scars, but the emotional ones are no less damaging than that of an FS-5 tornado to
us, and just as permanent. As with tornado watches and alerts, God has told us over and over
in the Bible that "no man knows when his time will come when everything will be required of
him". God tells us to be prepared by trusting in Him and believing that Christ died for our sins
and redemption when we go to be with Him in Eternity.
But unlike in a tornado, there is no place to run and hide until death is over! It never will be.
There is no siren to alert us to the coming upheaval of our lives. Unlike in a tornado, we
cannot go buy the material to rebuild the loss in our lives. This tornado of death is always
permanent, always final. Sometimes when we watch a loved one struggling with a terminal
illness, we have that anvil-head cloud that we watch gathering but are powerless to find safety
from it. It also indiscriminately hits or misses as it will. And we struggle with, "Why us?" "Why
now?" We must face it head on without fear, and we can, because if we believe in God and
place our trust in His promises, he will be our shield from the storm.
God also told us that He placed us here for a purpose and not until that purpose was fulfilled
would He call us home. In the book, "A Purpose Driven Life" written by Richard Warren, we
find many, many truths from the Bible in the research for the book that we should never doubt
that our life is for a specific purpose of God's design, and to recognize our need to prepare for
the time when we cease to exist on earth.
We are all mortal and will surely be called home in the end, and surely when that happens, we
who are left to grieve that passing over are no less affected than if an FS-5 tornado whipped
through our lives. We are shaken and disoriented for everything for us has changed in the
twinkling of an eye. We struggle to get our feet back on the ground again and seek peace. But
like that FS-5's result, nothing ever again will be the same. That is to say that life will go on but
it will be different, and there will be purpose in our life as well. If we go to the Maker of all life,
our Father God in Heaven, we will not only find safety and peace, we will eventually regain our
purpose and relish the life that we have ahead. We must seek the only shelter that guarantees
safety and calm when all else is whirling and dashing everything to pieces. That shelter and
loving protection is Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Savior. I know this is true because He
promised, and He never has, nor will He ever go back on His word.
Death can come as swiftly as a tornado with little warning, and we miss our loved one and
wish to be reunited with them. But that is precisely what God promises: If we trust and believe
in Him, we will be reunited with our loved one in Heaven. He promised!
If you have lost a loved one and are feeling devastated by the storm, leave all your hurts with
God and ask Him to ease your pain and longing and bring you that peace that surpasses all
understanding. May God comfort you in your grieving. ~ Betty