In the middle of devastation and suffering, witnessing moments of love and grace
Posted in , Sep 13, 2017
I cried numerous times watching the images of the devastation left behind from Hurricane Harvey. My heart was broken for friends whose homes were under water, for friends who were trapped in stifling apartments with no electricity or water and only a couple days of food left. Stories of strangers and loss of life moved me to tears again and again.
Yet in the midst of tragedy that is beyond words to describe, moments of beauty arose… moments that made me want to stand up and cheer. People driving in from states far away, hauling their boats to help rescue those who were stranded. First responders, weary beyond words, who kept going and going and going. Businesses and churches that opened their doors and hearts. Volunteers who helped shoulder the burden, who dispensed food, hugs, love and encouragement to evacuees. Even moments where songs and worship drifted throughout a shelter and into the hearts of the hurting.
"Thank You all. Every book, magazine, and letter means a lot to us when we are away from home. It gives us hope, confidence, happiness, strength and pride that someone is there for us." - Former Navy Sailor, Part of Operation Gratitude
That made me think about some things:
1. I’m not as grateful as I thought I was. When was the last time I thanked God that there was water for a shower or for the hot food on my table? When was the last time I thanked Him for the shoes on my feet and for a change of clean dry clothes?
2. Stuff doesn’t matter as much as we think it does. The images are so sad of neighborhoods with the damaged contents of homes piled mountain-high next to the curb. But talk to the homeowners, and the comments are, “My family is all safe.”
3. God’s grace is there when we need it—and it’s always on time. Not before. Not after. But just as we need it.
4. From posts by friends in the Houston area who were deeply impacted by the hurricane and flood waters, I was reminded that humor lightens any situation. It helps us and other people.
5. The courage and grace of friends who were deep in the pit of hard times shows that God has given us a resilient spirit and strength for the moment.
6. I was reminded that neighbor helping neighbor, stranger helping stranger is a beautiful thing.
7. And I was reminded that we need to be compassionate and to give. To help in any way we can—whether it’s hands-on help, offering refuge for an evacuee family or digging deep in our pockets for financial contributions.
My heart continues to hurt for those affected by the hurricane and floodwaters. But I’m grateful for the lessons that can be learned—even in the midst of a tragedy.