Residents of Moore, Oklahoma, are beginning the process of coping with this week’s devastating tornado, which ripped through the Oklahoma City suburb, leaving more than $1 billion in damage and dozens of families grieving the loss of a loved one.
During times like these, the tough questions begin. Where was God? Why did this happen? In light of our collective need for encouragement during times like these, we’ve compiled some helpful comments from Billy Graham through the years about grief, pain and suffering.
“I have been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept, by faith, that God is sovereign, and He’s a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering.” (National Day of Prayer and Remembrance following attacks of 9/11. Sept. 14, 2001)
“God is not blind. He knows about you and your problems. He knows of those who are suffering … and His love for His children will never leave in times of trouble.” (Hope for the Troubled Heart, 1991)
“Nowhere does the Bible teach that Christians are to be exempt from the tribulations and natural disasters that come upon the world. It does teach that Christians can face tribulations, crisis, calamity, and personal suffering with a supernatural power that is not available to the person outside of Christ.” (The Secret of Happiness, 1955)
“If there is something we need more than anything else during grief, it is a friend who stands with us, who doesn’t leave us. Jesus is that friend.” (Hope for the Troubled Heart, 1991)
“Times like this will do one of two things. They will either make us hard and bitter and angry at God, or they will make us tender and open, and help us to reach out in trust and faith. I think that is what the people of Oklahoma are doing that I have met since I have been here these past two days. I pray that you will not let bitterness and poison creep into your soul, but that you will turn in faith and trust in God even if we cannot understand.
It is better to face something like this with God than without Him. Some of you today are going through heartache and grief so intense that you wonder if it will ever go away…I want to tell you that our God cares for you and for your family and for your city and the Bible says that He is “the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles.” Jesus said, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.”
I pray that every one of you will experience God’s comfort during these days as you turn to Him, for God loves you, and He shares in your suffering. Difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event gives us … a message of hope. Yes, there is hope. There is hope for the present because I believe the stage has already been set for the restoration and renewal of the spirit of this city. You are a city that will always survive and you will never give up.” (Statewide Prayer Service for Oklahoma following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. April 23, 1995)