Why do some thank God when spared from a tornado?

Whenever we see news coverage of a car accident/wildfire/tornado/bout of indigestion we’re treated to the nearly ubiquitous bite of a survivior praising God for protecting him or her. It’s all well and good as survivors are justifiably grateful to whatever force or happenstance saved them. But, if it was God who sent the tornado in the first place, isn’t all he did for that survivor was not kill him…just like every other day?

Because they’re glad they didn’t die in the tornado. Yes, I agree with all the logical objections, but it’s not hard to figure out the reason people say this kind of thing.

I think part of it is arrogance." Oh Ted down the street got shattered to little pieces and his kids are all dead? My family is fine. Thank’s God, now I know I’m more important than Ted!"

They’re grateful to the kind, loving god who decided not to capriciously kill them after all.

As The Simpsons put it in a church sign 15 years ago, “God Welcomes His Victims.”

Because the ones who died can not tell the news people what they think about it.

That is the meaning of, “Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord!” They don’t give thanks for being saved, they give thanks for being spared, by a being Who has both the power and the right to kill them at any moment at His own sole discretion. Sympathy with the oppressor is a well-known psychological phenomenon.


Sorry - I had said something pretty snide just there…

Thank you. There’s plenty of that in this thread already. As was really hard to predict when I saw the thread title.

Yes, so how is this different from any other day? Aren’t you “spared” every day of your life? Is surviving a disaster just a reminder to thank God from not striking you dead?

To be fair, I knew Ted and he was a shit!. He kept parking in front of my driveway so I can’t say I’m surprised.

Because most people can’t grasp probability theory even when they’re *not * experiencing the flood of emotions that a near-death experience produces.

I understand why people do it - we like to think somebody or some (benevolent) force is looking out for us and our families on a personal level.

but whenever I hear someone say this I kind of think it’s rude. if other people died and you say “God saved me” - aren’t you tell their families that God let them die on purpose?

I’m not an atheist (although “some of my best friends are” ;)) but I don’t believe God micromanages. based on nothing, BTW, that’s just my take.

I’m sure you’ve heard someone say “every day is a blessing.” From that standpoint, surviving a huge natural disaster is a more dramatic reminder of the same.

Objection! Assumes facts not in evidence. (As Perry Mason would say.)

Both God and Satan get an awful lot of both credit and blame for things that they had nothing to do with.

The Deists have the idea that God created the universe like a clock and then essentially wound it up and walked away. While that’s not completely accurate, there is a fair bit of truth in that idea. God created the scientific laws that lead to evaporation, rain, snow, tornadoes, etc. And other than the relatively rare times of direct divine intervention, those scientific laws do indeed run like clockwork.

As to the question or issue of one person being killed by an event and a nearby person not being killed–an amazingly large number of people have made it out to be vastly more complicated than it actually is. God does not routinely steer tornadoes, hurricanes, and such like, deciding which houses or people to strike. Some outcomes are simply the result of randomness. Some outcomes are the inexorable result of scientific laws. Some outcomes are the result of deliberate human choices.

Now it is certainly possible that God may on occasion chose to spare or not spare a particular person. There are many reasons for such a choice. There are certain lessons in life that can be learned only through suffering. Or God may see that a certain person may be in for severe suffering through cancer later in life, and therefore give them a much quicker and less painful death.

In addition, there is a vast difference between what God causes and what He allows. The Apostle Paul wrote, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28a). Note–he didn’t say “are good,” but “work together for good.” Sometimes when something bad happens, God in effect says to a person, “Are you going to work through this and use it to become a better person, or are you going to allow yourself to become bitter?” The story of Job is perhaps the best example of this.

Except on those other days, there wasn’t a tornado.

Are you under the impression that many religious people don’t thank God every day for whatever it is they think God is doing for them?

I live in Memphis, which is the headquarters city for the Church of God in Christ, a Pentecostal denomination. I have heard COGIC bishops and pastors say, in the aftermath of a tornado which killed persons across the river neighbor in West Memphis, Arkansas, that God spared Memphis because of COGIC’s presence. This leads me to conclude that the answer to the OP’s question is “Because they’re assholes.”

My money’s on Stockholm syndrome.

Not at all. Perhaps I should’ve qualified the question to regard those who believe God has his hand directly in every event, good and bad. I just wonder how often those who would thank God for sparing them from a tornado would routinely thank God for sparing their lives after successfully navigating a staircase or eating shellfish. Absurd examples, yes, but technically no different. Again, I realize a disaster brings this aspect of their faith into sharper focus. Maybe it comes down to semantics. When people thank God for protecting them maybe they should be thanking him for not killing them. It may seem like a hairsplitting difference but, to me, it’s represents a pretty significant shift in how one would view his or her relationship with God.

Probably whenever someone in their immediate vicinity dies from mis-navigating a staircase or from eating shellfish. IWO, under the same circumstances as the tornado.