Some days bring difficulty…words fail…answers are not available…and the quiet seems to be the only peace. I find that these last few days are (indescribable)… As the storm approached, I have heard and read prayers for the storm to turn…though as we pray, we may not have considered what turning may look like or whom that may affect. I have heard cries of thanksgiving for minimum damage while neighbors have open roofs and no place to call home. I have experienced relief that the storm has passed…all the while, the river waters rise and friends struggle to bring a few belongings to a new location…their home and dream is, once again, washed away.
Please don’t misunderstand. I believe we should not welcome tragedy or minimize gratefulness. I, too, am thankful to be safe and out of danger. I am grateful for no damage in the face of a powerful storm. I just wonder if our prayers and gratefulness come from a place where we seek to take care of self…while our neighbors rush to find rescue.
This is not the first time I have felt this way. Actually, I feel this way when I thank God for my daily “bread” and then eat more than my share of the world’s produce. I wonder about my place to thank God for what he has given when there are brothers and sisters around the world that thank God for much less…possibly their one meal for the day or many days. I wonder if I’m missing something about what God is trying to teach me when I thank him for my daily bread but when I may not be the best steward of it. This is not one of those thoughts of…”make sure you clean your plate because there are starving children in Africa” speeches. That, in my opinion, teaches us to pile our plates high and eat it all…even in the face of gluttony. It does not teach us to become better stewards of the gifts we have been given or to actually share a meal with anyone else. It is more of a thought about what God has given us and how he loves the whole, entire world…not just me. Why am I given so much while others have so very little? My faith is not bigger nor do I deserve more. My faith is probably weaker and struggle could teach me something.
It just becomes more real as I know my neighbors that have worked so very hard to re-start their lives only watch it washed away – again. In my heart, I know that the value of life is far greater than any possession we can accumulate. But I find that less than comforting for those that have only a few moments to pick up their whole life of belongings and to say goodbye to a significant part of their lives. It is easier to sit in an air conditioned home with food to eat, proclaiming homes and cars and possessions really don’t mean anything, than it is to leave those things behind to be destroyed. I actually find that many of the things we say to each other as believers really has no real sustenance when we sit in a first world country consuming more than our share and complaining about things which really just don’t matter. It is hard to identify with those that truly struggle when our greatest challenges include the messed up order in our local drive thru or how our nail color doesn’t exactly match our outfit. I’m not trying to trivialize some of the things we are challenged with…but let’s be realistic…most of the time our challenges aren’t really challenges at all…but mere missteps in a lifelong journey…minor stumbles in a lifetime of good things. Destruction certainly sheds a new light on the things which we once felt were “unbearable” – those things that now seem so insignificant in the clarity of the rain.
I believe that God’s Word (not ours) speaks loudly in our celebrations…but provides great comfort when there are no words to be said. In the quiet of the house with no electricity…in the deep grief of the loss of a lifetime of memories…in the roar of a hungry child’s stomach…GOD IS STILL PRESENT. And I don’t think his words are of condemnation or judgment or correction. Maybe his words don’t seem like words at all, but more like silent moments of God just providing his Almighty Presence, the Presence that feels a whole lot like love.
As the rains continue to fall and as the rivers continue to rise, my prayer is that the Presence of the Almighty is felt…sometimes in words of a Psalmist or writer gifted by God…and sometimes in the Silence of the Almighty. In our gratefulness, I pray that with our overwhelming place of giftedness, we find a way to give and serve like never before. May this truly be a time to show love to our neighbor and become the hands and feet of Christ. May this be our starting point rather than a short term event which launches forward Christ’s love to a world that feels so unlovable.
Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”