Tamara K. Anderson shares stories about storms, the coronavirus, why God lets bad things happen, and what all this has to do with the 2 great commandments.
I am so excited to be here with you today. I’m feeling a little bit of the Coronavirus quarantine going on and I am excited talk about two specific reasons why God lets things like the Coronavirus happen.
In my episode with Scott Shay last week, he told the phenomenal story of his father being a Holocaust survivor. And he talked about the golden rule, and how God lets people use their free will. And then He watches what we do with it. It’s kind of a test, Scott explained.
Why does God let Hard Things Happen?
1. Free Will
Sometimes God lets hard things happen it is because of the free will of others. For example, in the case of Nazi Germany, and Scott’s father. You can read more about Scott’s thoughts about this in last week’s episode.
One of these reasons is because people choose to use their free will in a way that impacts others negatively. We see that all around us. But we also see the positive reaction of free will as well. Scott also talked about the golden rule and how we act to those around us.
2. Act of Nature
Sometimes, like in the case of the Coronavirus or earthquakes, it’s an act of nature. Why does God let these types of things happen? Now, we happen to have had an earthquake here in Utah just a few weeks ago and it scared me. I thought, Oh my goodness, we’re having this on top of the coronavirus. Dear Lord, what what are supposed to do? I’m thankful it was short.
So why does God let things like the coronavirus, earthquakes and devastations like floods happen? I think that these moments when we experience hard times are defining moments for each of us to choose how we are going to react.
The Tornado Story
I’m going to tell you a story about when a tornado went through our neighborhood when our family lived in Arkansas. We lived in Arkansas for seven and a half years. It was wonderful. We loved our neighbors. We loved the area. The only thing I really did not like about the area was the tornadoes or the chance for tornadoes. They had the practice tornado sirens that went off every week. It seemed like every thunderstorm that came in, that the tornado siren would go off. And so we kind of got used to it.
But this particular storm, I remember going outside and looking at the clouds, and it just felt different. There was a feeling of heaviness in the air. And I remember looking at those clouds and they looked a little green and thinking, This isn’t normal. This is different.
So I ran inside and told my husband to move the truck in the garage as the tornado sirens were going off. Then we grabbed our kids and we ran downstairs to our laundry room, which is our innermost room. And just as we were getting the last the kids inside our laundry room, the noise became so loud. Projectiles were hitting our house. It felt like we were suddenly in a pressurized airplane. I remember my ears feeling the pressure suck air out of our house. It was it was surreal and scary.
We sat huddled in that little laundry room probably for longer than we should have, because a tornado is over very quickly. I mean, it’s like you blink your eyes and it’s over. It’s just unbelievably fast.
The Aftermath of the Tornado
Thank goodness, we were only impacted by an F1 tornado. So, fences were down, windows were broken in our neighborhood. There were shingles from people’s roofs everywhere. I mean, you couldn’t go five feet in any direction without finding a shingle.
Amazingly, our kids went to school the next day and everybody in our neighborhood took off work or was excused from work, so that they could start the cleanup effort. And I will tell you, that time brought our neighborhood closer together. It really did. We were out loving each other and helping each other. It didn’t matter if you were cleaning up in within your yard boundaries or not. We were all out there helping each other.
That tornado brought our neighborhood together in a way that nothing else had. And it gave us a chance to love and serve one another. To this day, I love those neighbors that I had in Arkansas so so very much. They are near and dear to my heart. And we went through a hard thing together, and we learned to love each other because of it.
Reason #1: Opportunity to Love Your Neighbor
And so sometimes I think another reason God lets hard things happen is because he knows it will give us a chance to live the second great commandment: loving our neighbor. So I think whatever difficulty you go through, you have that choice. You can either hate your neighbor, or you can love your neighbor.
And so we have that choice here at this time of the coronavirus. What are we going to do? Are we going to love our neighbors, even though we may not be able to see them? Are we going to share love, positivity, and hope? Or are we going to back bite, nitpick and be mean to each other?
Scott talked about how life is a series of choices. And he explained that God has the long view of our development in his mind and He wants us to grow and progress and develop good qualities. Sometimes people choose not to. So that that is one of the reasons that I think God lets hard things happen.
Reason # 2: Opportunity to Turn to God as a Refuge
The second reason I think God lets hard things happen has to do with the first great commandment. I’ve been thinking a lot about this first great commandment, which first is to love God. God lets us see which way we will turn in times of trial. Do we turn towards God or do we turn away from Him during hard times?
One thought that I’ve been researching in the scriptures lately is a concept called refuge. And that word has just been pinging around in my brain all weekend.
The Sudden Storm at Zion National Park
I’m going to tell you about Another story that happened to my family. Shortly after we moved here to Utah, we were so excited because we were out west and we knew that there were just a ton of national parks out west, especially in Utah. We hadn’t taken our children to many of these national parks. And so we were so excited to be able to do that. So all of our spring breaks, fall breaks, and most of our summer vacations as a family, were all involved with us taking our children to see national parks.
And so we visited the big five in Utah. On one of these visits, we visited Zion National Park, which is in southern Utah. It’s beautiful canyons with red rocks and rivers running through and green trees. The contrast between the red and the green is just breathtaking. And you see these huge, wide open vistas on some of the hikes. It is just it’s phenomenal. If you ever get the chance to come see Zion National Park, it is absolutely
Anyway, on this particular hike, it was spring. And so with spring weather, you know you’re gonna get a thunderstorm pass through here and there. My family had just started a hike when the heavens opened and the wind was blowing at least 60 miles an hour. It was a torrential downpour with this huge blast of wind.
Finding Refuge from the Storm
So where do you go when you’re out in the middle of nowhere on a hike and it start pouring rain? We happened to be right close to a sheer cliff wall right beside the trail. And because the rain was falling sideways, we found that if we pressed ourselves as close as we could against the rock, that it protected us from this huge torrential downpour.
Our son Nathan, who has low functioning autism absolutely hates getting wet. So we really try to avoid situations where he gets wet because he just has like a meltdown. Usually if he gets a shirt wet, it comes off. If he gets his pants wet, they come off. So we have to be very careful about this.
And so I remember one of us just standing over Nathan trying to protect him, pushing him against the huge rock face. Believe it or not, we lived out that storm with those immense gusts of wind and pelting rain, and we stayed pretty dry because we just pressed ourselves against the rock and it was our refuge during that storm.
I learned something on that hike that day. Where do we turn when all hell breaks loose and the storms of life hit us unawares? Maybe they’re blowing at us sideways with 60 miles an hour winds. Where do we turn? Where do we anchor ourselves and find refuge?
The answer is we find it in the rock. We find it in God–He who is the firm foundation on which we’re supposed to build. Build on that rock.
And if we press ourselves into God, like our family literally pressed ourselves into the side of that sheer rock wall, we will find refuge and safety from whatever storms are blowing around us.
An Inspirational Verse
There’s a beautiful scripture in the Old Testament where it talks about God being our refuge and it’s found in Psalm 62: 5-8.
My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation: He is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times; ye people pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.
Isn’t that beautiful? I love just pulling words out of verses that seems so applicable to our times. He is our rock. He is our defense, our salvation, our strength, our refuge, and to trust in Him. Pour out your heart before Him. Aren’t those beautiful and powerful phrases and words to think about in times of trial?
Answering the Question
So the question becomes, as the storms hit you, where will you turn? Will you blame God–cry that you’re getting wet as you’re standing on a trail? Or are you going to try to hunker down and find some refuge? Are you going to stand against the rock and let it protect you and help you?
It doesn’t mean you won’t get a little wet. It’s gonna happen. But can you lean on Him when times are hard? Can you lean on Him when things are tough? Yes! He will always always be there.
I think that’s one of the reasons that God is so often in the scriptures compared to a rock because it is firm and strong. A rock is such a great image of stability in times of trial and life’s storms.
Applying the Two Great Commandments
So my friends, I leave you with this amazing thought today. In your times of trial and as you wonder why has God let these hard things happen to me–whether they be earthquakes, tornadoes, virus pandemics? Pause and think: How can applying the two great commandments of loving God and having Him as a refuge and loving your neighbor help you during this time? Who can you bless if you’re leaning on God?
Sometimes you’re weak and you don’t feel you can help others. But there’s an amazing blessing that comes to those who reach out and give–even out of their poverty. Consider the New Testament woman who gave her two mites. God is always watching. Give some two mites to someone in some small way with a card or a phone call or text or a tweet, or a message. And uplift.
I have heard from some friends, in the last couple weeks that I haven’t heard from or talked to in years. It is sad that it takes a pandemic for us to reach out. But what a blessing is has been to reconnect with some of these people that I love so very dearly.
Allowing Learning and Growth
To wrap all of this up, I believe that God gives us the opportunity to pass through hard things because He wants us to learn that we can rely on Him. And that when we rely on him, we can in turn, help ourselves and bless the lives of others. It’s it’s a learning process. And we learn more about ourselves with every struggle we go through. We grow smarter, wiser, stronger, and we can in turn, use those strengths to bless and help and lift others.
Now, sometimes when we initially hit a hard spot, we crumble and we break and we fall and we get all bloody and it’s just not a pretty sight. For example, when those tornadoes happened in our neighborhood it was a mess. And it took months, and probably even at least a year to get everything back to normal. But once it was, we were better and stronger for it. And so if you have something that completely lays you out, begin that process of rebuilding and lean and press against the rock. As you do so, and He will help you build back stronger and wiser and better than you were before. And those qualities that you have now developed, because of your adversity, will help you bless the lives of others.
The Third Place I Could Never Work
Now, before we go, I’ve promised you that I would tell you a little bit more about myself and three places I could never work. I’ve already talked about how I could never work at a home improvement store. I’ve told you how I could never work at a bookstore because I would spend all my money either on lumber or on books.
My Third Love: Fabric
Today I’m going to tell you about my other challenge and the third place I could never work is at a fabric store. Now let me tell you why. Fabric speaks to me. And it says, “Buy me, Tamara.” I love fabric! I love making quilts. I haven’t had a lot of time to quilt since I started podcasting. But ironically, as I sit here in my podcasting room, one of my sound absorption things in this closet is my fabric. And I have it sorted by color. It’s mostly Cotton’s and cotton poly blends because that’s what’s great for making quilts.
But I love fabric. I love the colors I love piecing together fabric into beautiful quilts. I was blessed a few years ago to inherit Justin grandmother’s old sewing stuff. One of his aunts had kept it. Grandma Anderson was a quilter and started some quilts or had some leftover pieces of quilts I was able to turn into quilts. Here is a photo of one of the quilts I made with a pattern Grandma Anderson started.
And I still have many quilts with what grandma has started on my docket, that maybe someday I’ll get to when I’m not so busy podcasting.
So the third place I could never work is a fabric store because all of my money would go towards fabric. It’s beautiful and fun to play with. And my mind just goes crazy with creativity juices flowing when I pick up a square of fabric. If I love that square of fabric, a whole blanket builds itself in my brain and and then I just have to make it.
I hope you guys have an awesome day and reach out and connect with someone today. Hope on!