On a single day, everything can change.
The residents of Joplin, Mo. will remember that day as Sunday before last, when a 3/4 mile-wide tornado bullied and bloodied its way along a six-mile trek, killing 139, leaving hundreds homeless, and in some way affecting every one of the 49,000 people who call it home.
For over a million people, that day fell only a few weeks earlier, when supercell thunderstorms bred a string of tornadoes that terrorized the Eastern third of the United States leaving a trail of tears miles wide and heart deep. Whole towns were leveled, 370 people were killed; in unimaginably sad circumstances, entire families. The injury count is in the thousands, the economic impact, billions, the personal toll, incalculable. The majority of deaths occurred in Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi, but Georgia, Arkansas, Virginia and Louisiana saw tragic loss of life as well.
Perfect Storms, cruel displays of nature’s fury, the kind that history remembers in categories of “worst” and “most deadly,” and that give survivors reason to mark time in terms of “before” and “after,” and everyone knows what they mean.
But God wasn’t caught off guard.
And in ways we’ll likely never understand this side of the Kingdom, He can use these tragic circumstances for our collective good, His glory and the advance of the Gospel.
But people are still hurting and it’s natural to question “Why?” Anger is understandable. “How could God allow this to happen,” has been whispered in thought, and for some, out loud.
The truth is I haven’t met anyone who can satisfactorily answer these questions, but this I believe even when murky doubt-clouds threaten:
God is good, only good, and His delight is in the redemption of the broken.
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later….
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity…?
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Sections from Romans 8:18-28, 35-39
Sweet, incomprehensible mercies are extended to us through this inseparable love of God for His children, despite circumstance. Thank you, Jesus!
I live in one of the areas affected by the April storms; a month later I still marvel at the legion of 3-story tall fallen oaks and the homes and businesses smashed to splinters. Though our home remained unscathed, neighbors didn’t fare so well.
Social networks became lifelines.
As the storms pounded the Southeast, Facebook friends and Twitter followers with electricity or working cell phones checked in with one another; sometimes, before, to warn, and other times, after, to offer help and make sure you were alright. Like others, we opened our home via a Facebook update to whomever, to shower or do laundry or have a meal or stay with us; we had few takers but that wasn’t the point. In its own way, it was sharing the Gospel, giving what we had for the benefit of someone else.
John Piper’s assertion “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him,” has come to mind over recent weeks as I’ve watched my Chattanooga and Southern neighbors start the rebuilding process. I’ve heard people who lost everything material praise God that their lives were spared; I’ve heard accounts from those who lost family members praise God because they believed some how this was part of His plan and in some way He was at work in their midst.
I’ve seen God beautifully glorified in these people because of their satisfaction in Him alone. What an amazing testimony to their faith!
I’ve watched the Church Universal spring to life as individual faith bodies joined hands to minister the Gospel through food and shelter and service; people loving people in action, not just words. And maybe one of the most lovely aspects has been to watch those outside the faith rise up and serve, too, with those distinctions not mattering a bit. And they got to hear and see the Gospel at work, right alongside those being served.
If you have been personally affected by these days where everything changed, do you know your (in)courage community has been praying for YOU?
To our (in)courage community, will you help us remember those affected most recently by the Midwest and Southern tornadoes?
Our community is thousands strong and we know your support will make a difference in the lives of many:
- Make a donation to the Salvation Army, an organization whose mission is consistent to our own. There are dozens of local relief initiatives in affected areas, but we wanted a portal that extends service and support beyond one locale. You can be confident your gift is secure.
- “Rain on Me” a wonderful devotional written by our own Holley Gerth, will be a great encouragement for those most recently hit in Joplin. For a special $10 donation, DaySpring has arranged to deliver a copy of Holley’s DayBrightener and Book Set to someone impacted in the Joplin area. (Be sure to use Coupon Code NOSHIP and select Shipping Method FedEx Ground for no shipping charge on a donation purchase.)
- Encourage one another in comments. Pray, share your personal experience, suggest other ways to minister to others.
By Robin Dance, author of PENSIEVE, who still likes to walk in the rain.Leave a Comment
Hope Easter says
These storms were devastating. My little state of North Carolina was effected as well. They hit major cities such as Raleigh. I was just so thankful that God protected us from these storms that rolled through at night and some during the day.
It was a scary time, but God brought us through. He is good all the time, and all the time He is good!
I just pray for a speedy clean up process for all of these people so they can get their lives back on track.
Thank you for listing ways to help Joplin! This is awesome!
Robin ~ PENSIEVE says
Thanks, Hope :).
The Salvation Army link actually helps ALL the affected areas, though the landing page is featuring Joplin right now. Because the needs are vast, they’ll determine and prioritize neediest areas. What a difficult task….
(and thankful y’all were okay after the storm!)
Tracey solomon says
On my blog we have a way to help- working with a church/mops group in Joplin. The girls are posting necessary items to an amazon wishlist- it’s amazing what god has already provided!
Read about it here:
Rachel Tatem says
God is so powerful and so merciful
Janine, txmomx6 says
As a widow who lost her husband and the father of our six children 3 years ago (suddenly) I can tell you one thing for certain: I no longer ask God, “Why?” because I realized a long time ago that what His answer/reason would be ….. it would never be a good enough reason for me. He does indeed work everything for good and His ways are not mine, nor are they understood by my finite human brain. But He is there …. in the dark, in the Valley of the Shadow of Death (where I spent a couple of years), and He will never leave or forsake us.
And He grieves when we grieve.
And He smiles as we slowly learn to dance …. again.
I have been to Joplin twice over the past couple days. Once, to help a family member compile a list of items lost in their house for insurance purposes; and, the 2nd time for a funeral. My heart stayed there.
Praying for those who cannot form words to pray because the hurt hurts too much. God is right in the midst of the tragedy, and rebuilding. Amen.
Thank you for this post, Robin! I posted something similar on my site recently, after the devastation in Chattanooga, Ringgold, and Tuscaloosa – all places very near and dear to my heart personally! Praise the Lord for His protection of you and your family! And thank you DaySpring, Holley, and (in)courage for reaching out this way!
“So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. ” James 1:16-18
I am so praying for the devastation over there! I can’t even fathom the pain of losing children, sisters, brothers, husbands, parents, grandparents, etc… However, I encourage you to remember that this whole world one day shall pass & there will be a day with no more pain & sorrow for those who persevere in times of trial & serve our Lord. 🙂 I’m praying that in the midst of what seems so much darkness, that God’s light pours in to your lives & you can’t help but praise Him through this storm! *hugs* to everyone affected & to everyone out there serving on the missionfield!
Well said. While my area was spared, others around us was not. I send prayers up daily for all those involved!
Thank you so much for this post, it has brought me to tears. Good tears, loving tears. I’m from the St.Louis area and we’ve been blessed to have only had some minor damage from all of the tornadoes that have plagued us this year. Other members of my family have not been so lucky. Their whole street was destroyed during the Good Friday Tornadoes that hit us. Those images will never leave my mind, never. Devestation on television is hard to handle, but to experience it… Thank you for your work and for everyone who has donated time, money, supplies and prayers. Thank you.
Even as I grieve with those who have lost so much, in some cases everything but Jesus, I rejoice to see the gospel going forth through people like you as they respond to it. May His name and goodness be glorified even through this, and may we who believe in Christ respond with the love and faithfulness of our Savior.