Early morning, August 11, a low-pressure storm system settled over 5 parishes in southern Louisiana and during the next 48 hours dumped nearly 2 feet of rain on the region. The record rainfalls—2–3 inches per hour in some areas—led to record water levels for many rivers and waterways, including the Amite and Comite rivers.

Livingston Parish, home to about 138,000 people, was perhaps the hardest hit, with one official estimating that 75 percent of the homes were a total loss. Areas that have never been known to flood are under water. Finally, the floodwaters are beginning to recede from the 40,000 homes that have been affected. Some 68,000 people have applied for federal assistance, and more are expected.

As Christians read about tragedies like this, it’s easy to wonder whether God had some hand in events like these. Those affected may ask, “Is God angry with me?” or, “Why didn’t God keep this from happening?” Such questions are difficult to answer, and individuals must personally wrestle to resolve them.

We aren’t the first to ask questions like this either. The Gospel of Luke recounts a story of some people who came to Jesus questioning God’s ways. Jesus, in response, challenged them to consider their own lives instead.

The floods in Louisiana remind us that we never know when tragedy might befall us. We live in a chaotic and unpredictable world. But Jesus’ response assures us that amid such uncertainty God is constantly offering us security in his love and grace. That security doesn’t mean we won’t face hardship or tragedy, but God will go through it with us and be there for us no matter how it ends. Read Jesus’ words, and see how God can use tragedy to break through our hum-drum lives and remind us how much we need him.

Luke 13:1-9

About that time some people came up and told him about the Galileans Pilate had killed while they were at worship, mixing their blood with the blood of the sacrifices on the altar. Jesus responded, “Do you think those murdered Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die. And those eighteen in Jerusalem the other day, the ones crushed and killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed and fell on them, do you think they were worse citizens than all other Jerusalemites? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die.”

Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?’

“The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.’”