2011-05-06 - Night of Tornadoes
As most people have recently seen on the news, during the last week of April, devastating tornadoes struck the Southeastern United States. The tornadoes were life-altering, both for those hit head-on by them, as well as those who escaped unscathed. It was a terrifying night. If you could see through walls that night, you'd find families huddled in closets, basements and the like, praying, clinging to each other for dear life, not knowing if this would be their last moments on Earth.
For multitudes of us, words and concepts such as hooks (the radar image of the tornado itself in a storm cell - and the more clear and prominent the hook the more vicious the storm), debris balls and BTI indexes will be forever emblazoned in our minds. The tornadoes that hit Alabama, Georgia et al have been called the most deadly storms in history. The "night of tornadoes" was too momentous, to let it go by without mention.
And yet, what can I say, that hasn't been said? I can't explain why some of us were miraculously spared at the last second, and yet others many of whom were faithful Christians lost loved ones, homes and workplaces. As much as I wish I could, I can't say any magical words that will "fix" people's situations. Physical recovery for many victims will take months, if not years, and emotional recovery will probably be a lifetime deal for many, even with the counseling God has provided. I can't say if this kind of tornado outbreak will happen again.
What I can say is that it is not because the people who were hit, were bad people.Some of them were dedicated pastors, and many were faithful Christians. Of course, any of us who have read through God's holy Bible would know that "the rain falls on the just and the unjust," and not just from the story of Job (wherein his finger-pointing "friends" were shown to be wrong about his guilt). Christ Himself replied to accusatory disciples - who assumed someone's sin caused a man's blindness - " neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in His life." (John 1:3, NIV)
And if God were going to wipe out people because they were sinful, He'd have to wipe out every one of us.
What I can also say is that God is and was everywhere in this situation.
God was, most obviously, in the miraculous survival stories people's houses blown away around them, but their lives spared, and for some of us, (including my neighborhood), deadly F3 tornadoes lifting up within one minute of hitting our homes. Sometimes, this is the way our Lord works.
Jesus is in the faces of the people left without loved ones, homes, or even the basic necessities of life some sleeping in tents, as their Red Cross hotel vouchers run out in 3-5 days. And I believe, personally, that one reason some of us were spared, were to help those who were not. Remember: when we help them, we are helping Christ Himself.
"I tell you the truth: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me." Matthew 26:40 (NIV)
And Jesus is in the hearts of many volunteers who have rushed to disaster areas, some trained search, rescue and recovery techniques while others are sharing "in-kind" (material) goods such as water, non-perishable food, dog food, flashlights and batteries, work gloves and the like.
And God will be in the lives of those who are struggling to "rebuild their lives," as He provides material and emotional support through government disaster workers, charity workers, church members who are living out the story of the Good Samaritan.
I would like to encourage you to ask God what your role is in helping these folks, or anyone affected by such a "disaster." Maybe you have no money to spare, but are a fervent prayer warrior. What more important role could there be? Perhaps you have some gently - used furniture, work tools or other items. God may be calling you to give of your time to help volunteer in the disaster-torn areas; if you feel this is true, please talk to your local disaster agencies or government, to see what the training requirements are. Or perhaps you already have skills in the areas of drywalling or other rebuilding skills. If so, again, please let your disaster agencies know.
No single one of us can do everything for everyone, everywhere. But each of us can do something for someone, somewhere.
"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Phil 2:4 (NIV)