It’s often the big things that we instinctively look to God on. However, we sometimes struggle with understanding God’s hand when it comes to disasters and tragedies.
My family experienced a natural disaster this week, and as I reflect on it, I realize that this is an important testimony to highlight God’s hand and what he has done and is still doing.
Sunday, November 5th, an EF1 Tornado touched down by my parent’s home. They had just sat down to dinner when they saw trees start falling. There was no warning, their weather radio did not sound an alert. It happened very quickly. As my brother, who lives next door but was there for dinner, ran with his granddaughter to a safer room, a tree crashed through the room next to where they took cover.
As quickly as it came, the storm went, leaving a devastating mess behind. Along with the tree that went through the back bedroom of my parent’s house, other large trees lay strewn about their yard. One crushing the shed where their lawn equipment was housed. Another, destroyed my brother’s mobile home. Two windshields were broken on their vehicles and debris was strewn everywhere. There were twelve large trees down in their immediate yard, one with a root ball lifted twenty-foot in diameter. More than half of the trees in the woods behind there house were gone. Two thirds of the trees in the forest across the road from them were gone, leaving only a twisted-tangled mess of wood. Roadways were blocked, forcing a hustle for emergency crews to clear enough to get in and check on residents. With phone lines down, they had to go door to door.
Ten homes were destroyed, not counting those that sustained repairable damage. Once wooded areas are now cleared from the skyline like never before. In all that, not a single injury was sustained. That was God’s hand. No one was hurt.
As you can imagine, even being insured this was a very stressful situation. My parents cannot get out and work like they used to, though they try, and the work needed was outright overwhelming. I prayed to God for help.
Our expectations of how God delivers isn’t always how God actually delivers. He, always has a better plan. Day one we had to get the tree off their house and cleared away completely so the Electric company could come in and restore power. This was a HUGE tree. My brother, my mom, my nephew, and myself started out clearing away the limbs that would allow us to get to the tree itself. Shortly after, a local stopped by, chainsaw in hand asking if he could help. “Thank you God” I thought, “But we’re going to need more than this.” I know, I know, we should never second guess God, and that wasn’t necessarily my intent. See if I had had it my way, a crew of ten strapping lumberjacks would have showed up all at once. Hindsight, they would have been stepping on each other in such a tight space.
By the end of the day, I saw God’s plan unfold. You see, as a couple volunteers showed up, worked, and tired, another couple would show up. We had a consistent cycle of helpers the entire day. Our progress was far beyond our own hopes, and had the electric company in shock and awe at how quickly we had cleared the mess off the house.
By the time I had made it home, I had messages on social media. A local church was advertising that they had volunteers wanting to help. The local boy scouts had also reached out asking if they could come help too. We are now four days in, and what I had initially thought would take months has only taken days. See that’s God’s hand too. He sends us what we need, when we need it. In fact, I have so many pledges to help, that it now requires organization and planning to accommodate the various skill sets and equipment.
God is so good.
There is something else to take away from this experience, and that is the opportunity for blessings amongst us all. You see, as a Christian, I am always excited to bless someone else, but I find it hard to accept help (or blessings) from others. I definitely have a hard time asking. In my mind, there is always someone out there that needs their blessing more. Having been put into an overwhelming situation where I had to ask for help, it occurred to me that by not allowing the opportunity for people to bless me only takes away their opportunity to bless someone. Blessing someone is good for both the giver and the recipient. What if all those people that I have blessed over time had rejected my blessing? Ouch. So I feel like my message from God in this is two part. #1 – “I’ve Got this Child, be still. & “#2 – make room for people to give blessings.”
This is an easy example to see God’s hand. While it was a disaster, it wasn’t a tragedy. We often struggle with why God allows these things to happen. Had the storm never came, he wouldn’t have needed to send people to help. God does not inflict us, he only wants good for us. Having said that, he has all authority, and nothing can happen without his permission. So where does that put us? In this story, had the storm not come, all of these helpers would not have had this opportunity to bless others. I would not have learned my lesson on asking for help. And those are just from my perspective. Others wouldn’t have gotten to experience the love and kindness of those in their community. And I wouldn’t have had this testimony to show you how Good God really is. How his hand moved. I can’t tell you why these things happen, only God knows that answer. What I can tell you is amid disaster, God “makes room for blessings”.