"I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things."
It is hard to believe, after what I saw in Joplin, that my loving Jesus would ever have a hand in such destruction. The devastation in Joplin is emense. It is blocks upon blocks and miles upon miles of rubble and destruction. There are many that would say, why would your God do such a thing? Or what kind of God do you serve that would let people, even infants die from this horrible storm? It is not that I don't have those concerns, that the same doubt, those same feelings of saddness and maybe even distrust of God's plan for all of this don't creep into my brain. In my time helping with Samaritan's Purse this weekend (the disaster relief team set up at Forest Baptist Church) I pondered this topic at great length. Adam and Tanner worked first hand, out at the houses in the striken neighborhoods clearing debris, while I worked at Mission Joplin the "food-pantry" set up for tornado victims. As I heard the stories from my boys and my church family that was there, I felt such an overwhelming sense of saddness and hurt for these families. I can tell you many stories, but the one that truly broke my heart Adam told me. They spent their afternoon clearing debris from a house that was half standing and half complete rubble. After they are done at a site, Samaritan's purse has the crew sign a Bible for the family and pray with them. This gentlemen was asked to tell his account of May 22. Emotionally he began telling of how he and his family saught shelter at a neighbors house and were lucky enough to all be ok. When the storm was over, he came out of the house and began walking down the street checking to see if anyone needed help. Sadly, he reconted how just down the road he came across the body of a dead infant. An adundance of devastation for these people. I just can not imagine, how do you recover from this? How does your faith stay strong? When you only hear and look at the bad things that happen and awful tragedy of it, all your faith can be shaken. You could easily see only what God did or didn't prevent. When I was there though, the most overwhelming thing was the love and devotion that these people have for each other. I saw a community of believers coming together and commiting to showing Christ's love and goodness to everyone they could. Forest Park Baptist is full of the most incredilble men and women. They have truly sacrificed and commited to helping everyone in their community as much as they possibly can. Those who can't do heavy labor work in the pantry, or put kits together, or cook or clean or simply pray for their fellow man. I was inspired and can officially say that I saw the face of God this weekend. I saw and felt a love that I would only hope that my church and my community would extend in such a situation.
In closing I can't say why God allows such disasters, I failed Christian Theology the first time and barely passed the second, but I can say this; God uses bad for good. He is growing this community into a people the believe and trust in his plan. I thank Him for our time in Joplin and for the affect it had on my family and my church family. I pray that he will do a good work there and that we will continue to have a heart for them, to pray for them and help in any way we can. I am emensely thankful and overwhelmed by the abundance of blessings I have in my life.
I will leave you this week with a thought, how do you shine God's light? Do you praise Him in the stormy times as well as the good times? What can you do to reach out to those who are in need? Have an affect on the people you come in contact with...
Show them that you and they are Beautifully and Wonderfully Made,