Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tornadoes in April

As everyone knows, much of our state was destroyed last week by some of the strongest and cruelest tornadoes that the country has ever seen. I am still so heavy hearted as I look at pictures of places that I know well - Tuscaloosa, my home for 4 years while attending UA, has been devastated. Phil Campbell and Hackleburg, towns I have driven through many times, have been obliterated. Pleasant Grove and Pratt City, where so many of my home health patients lived, are wastelands. It is so devastating. I have many of the same feelings I had when my aunt's house burned. An almost unbearable feeling of helplessness. Knowing that sure, I could help... I could donate, I could send money, I could drop off various items at my church... but could I really help?? The destruction is so widespread. The funeral homes are full. The hospitals are at capacity. It's just all been overwhelming. And here I sit in my well lit, comfortable home, a fridge full of food, a satellite box full of DVR'd TV shows to watch. And I'm heavy hearted. And just sad. Sad for so many families who didn't get to tell their loved ones goodbye. Sad for those who've lost everything and especially those who didn't have that much to begin with. And sad for those who do not know Christ and the peace and comfort and assurance and reassurance that He alone can give.

There was not a dry eye in the house at church on Sunday. We praised God for our safety and pleaded with Him on behalf of those that are missing and those that have lost so much. We talked about how we could help. Then we read this scripture together:

"The desert and the parched land will be glad; and the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy... They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God... Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped... Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, and the thirsty ground bubbling springs."
Isaiah 35:1-2, 5-6

And I rejoiced.

I rejoiced in a God who is, indeed, making all things new. Preparing a place for us, just like He promised. A place where there is no tragedy and no death and no sadness and no trusting in THINGS. A place where there is no discontent, no wanting more, no "if only's", no wishing, no waiting, no worrying. But instead, there is JESUS. And He is all we need. All we will ever need.

Have you heard the song "Give Me Jesus" by Jeremy Camp? (Or Fernando Ortega, whichever artist you prefer.) We sang this song on Sunday and it meant so much more this week than it ever has.
Probably some of the simplest lyrics you'll ever read. Yet some of the most powerful, especially now.

In the morning when I rise
In the morning when I rise
In the morning when I rise
Give me Jesus.

When I am alone
When I am alone
When I am alone
Give me Jesus.

When I come to die
When I come to die
When I come to die
Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world.
Give me Jesus.


I am reminded of a sermon I heard David Platt preach at church a few years back regarding natural disasters and how we, as Christians, should be reminded of the fragility of life and the urgency of our mission in making His word known among the nations. He reminded us of a few things:

1. That death, though often sudden and unpredictable, is CERTAIN. For all of us. Not one of us is guaranteed tomorrow.

2. That as Christians, our suffering is inevitable. In situations like last week, it may be easy to think, "God is punishing us" or "Why did God do this to me? Why is He making me suffer like this?" Society's version of Christianity today tells us that if we trust God we'll have wealth, health, prosperity, that we'll be respected and loved and appreciated. That we'll be immune to things such as natural disasters, disease, divorce, even death. But this is a far cry from what Christ tells us in the gospels. It's a far cry from who Christ was - he was homeless. Poor. Hated. We can't possibly be identified with a suffering savior if we preach that Christianity equals success and prosperity. Christ tells us that we WILL suffer. That if we give ourselves to HIS cause, that we will be MORE susceptible to suffering. As I read on a blog today, and this is so well put:

"You do not enter into Christianity for "comfort" but for Truth, because embracing a lie can never bring any sort of comfort. But what you are surprised to find when you embrace Truth is that in Christ our comfort overflows." (Thanks Martina!)

3. That our THINGS do not guarantee us ANYTHING in this world. Think about it. Think about what you did today. I drove a nice car around town. I checked my bank account. I worked on filling in my May calendar with activities. I bought a cake pan for an upcoming birthday party. I thought about how to rearrange the chairs in my den. I cleaned my kitchen and wished I had a bigger kitchen. And the fact is, every single one of these things will one day BURN UP. And I'll realize, just like so many people, how much I've wasted on this world. Because you know what? It has nothing to offer us. Our money, our college degrees, our jobs, our cars, our homes, our guilty pleasures... they will ALL be GONE one day. In an instant. My brand new neutral colored walls won't matter at that moment, and neither will my turquoise thrift store desk or my paintings or my curtain panels or my organized playroom. It will ALL be GONE. It's INEVITABLE. It's IMMINENT. It's CERTAIN.

But what is also certain, is that on that same day, as He promises us in Revelation, "we will SEE HIS FACE." I look forward to that day. Don't you?

You can have all this world.
Give me Jesus.

Pray for the southeast, those that read this; pray that God will give us proper perspective. Pray that we, as His church, will allow Christ to shine brilliantly through us. Pray that the lost people will come to know Him, the REAL Jesus, and that they will find hope and rest in Him. Pray that they will not mock our God but will instead find a God who will see them through this suffering. Pray that God will meet their needs and that He alone will be glorified in this storm.


4 comments:

The Penter Family said...

Great Post...full of truth. Thanks for posting.

Chrisy said...

Phenomenal thoughts that I needed to read. Thanks for sharing your heart.

Melissa said...

Thank you for this post.

Courtney said...

Amen, girl. I've spent a few days in Pleasant Grove and have been here in Phil Campbell/Hackleburg since Tuesday. Talk about feeling small and utterly helpless...and PRAISING GOD for the fact that I am small and helpless, cause...gee...wouldn't I screw everything up if I were in control?! I'm here obviously to do my job, but so many times I've found myself just looking at the devastation in these communities and praying over and over again that God would receive immense glory in the wake of this tragedy. I will never forget the things I've seen and heard here and in Pleasant Grove.

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