Monday, May 5, 2014

Tupelo Tornado: Battered but blessed

An elderly lady who has spent a lifetime providing custodial care for her very sweet son had just returned home from a visit to his doctor when the tornado roared through their area. In seconds, it ravaged their home. When the raging stopped, they were imprisoned in their simple house, trapped by the trees that usually provided summertime shade. Not only did their home sustain major damage, but also their older model car, which was flattened by a falling tree. 

Part of the roof was gone but the doors were held tight by the trees. It was not until the next day that this frail woman managed to use a crowbar to pry open a door so they could escape. Surveying the damage, she found that, although she had lost almost all her worldly possessions, there were two rooms that were still somewhat inhabitable. Daylight was visible along one wall, but the roof and other walls were relatively intact. 

With no way to drive for help, all she could do was pray and ask God to send the things they so desperately needed, and that is exactly what He did.  Friends from her church came to check on them. Teams of men helped cut trees, clear debris, and secure a tarp to cover the damaged roof. Church members brought food and fresh water, as well as new clothing. Someone brought dry mattresses. Over the last few days, her electricity has been restored and, though non-potable, they have running water again.  

She has worked hard all her life, and, at more than 80 years old, still manages to provide everything they need. Until now. She has no debt, but her resources are nearly non-existent. Her homeowners insurance was cancelled, she said, because her house is heated by an old space heater. She has no idea what the future holds, but she has anchored her hope in the One who has provided for every need for the better part of a century.  

When asked how they've been doing, both she and her son give the same quick answer. "We are so blessed. You can't believe how good God has been to us!" They are incredibly grateful to have two inhabitable rooms. There is not one complaint about the rooms that are not inhabitable. There is not one complaint about all she has lost. 

Listening to her, I wanted to weep in shame. I, who have so much, have not been grateful enough nor concerned enough about those who have lost so much. I recognize that life's storms, if allowed, will be used to make us stronger, more resilient, more Christlike. I have no doubt that this storm will work such a result in this dear woman's life. Already, she has seen God's hand at work. Teams are being assembled to assess the damage at her home and, if I'm not sadly mistaken, a safer, more secure home will be built to replace the one she has lost. I don't yet know how that will happen, but I plan to see it does. 

The question for those of us who were not affected by recent tornados is what difference will this storm make in my life? In our lives? Will we be more giving, more Christlike, more passionate about being the hands and feet of Christ? Oh dear ones, we must not allow the suffering of our friends and neighbors to be wasted. It can be like a seed planted by streams of water, growing a tree of fruitfulness in our hearts that yields results for years to come. It can be, if we let it. 

Look around you, see the need, and embrace the suffering. Give from your heart, and make a difference for those who are hurting. Don't wait, dear ones, do good now.