It was complete and utter devastation….obliteration on a scale seldom seen….chaos where beauty and order had just stood. Virtually everything flattened. Metal poles warped and distorted like twist ties on a loaf of bread. Majestic trees snapped in two like dry spaghetti…flatted like pixie sticks. It was as though a bomb went off where homes once stood….contents strewn far away…like fine china shattered on a marble floor….into a million pieces.
This is Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
On my way to Mississippi recently, I stayed at a Hampton Inn in Birmingham, some 40 miles from Tuscaloosa, about two weeks after the storm. I arrived at night, so I had no idea how full the hotel was. When I woke and went downstairs for breakfast, I found the lobby fuller than normal and abuzz with noise and people. I saw men and women wearing Red Cross T-shirts and Methodist Disaster Relief shirts sitting at tables drinking coffee. I saw workers with radios strapped to their belt wearing work boots and long pants. I saw men and women getting ready for a busy day, 40 miles away, in the humid and hot Alabama sun.
Hope had arrived. Care and love had quickly come to town. While some of the workers got paid for removing debris or filling out insurance forms, most, I’d say, were volunteers in their late 50s or 60s….many were couples. They were there to serve. They represented hope….they represented the care of God.
As I drove towards Tuscaloosa and thought of how devastating the tornado had been, I was reminded of the utter chaos we humans wrought in the Garden of Eden when mankind decided to ignore God and go his own way. The devastation and loss of life was complete and nearly, nearly permanent. Hope seemed to have been severed and ripped away from man. The beauty that preceded the pride of man, was perfection….it was a pure life filled with the joy of God’s presence. The disaster and destruction and pain that followed disobedience was significant on many levels.
But like the tornado volunteers, help was on the way…..
There is no escaping the consequences of the pain of loss and disaster. Both in Tuscaloosa and in the garden. But there is always hope.
The morning I woke to the bevy of volunteers in the hotel lobby, I took a walk outside to get some exercise. In the parking lot I saw nearly every space filled with vans and trailers packed with goods and aid. As I walked through the parking lot, I could not help but notice the origin of the vehicles…from Ohio, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Tennessee and elsewhere that had come to Alabama out of love for those that were hurting and needy. These people had left the comforts of home to give aid.
A lump formed in my throat as I saw the massive outpouring of compassion and hope from so many. In the middle of disaster there was hope.
This is a picture of the love, care and hope that God offers each of us each day.
He is with us while we suffer and provides relief of heart for those in need…..you and me. As we go through life and falter, get trampled, get depressed, when we stumble then fall again and again….we can know that the Red Cross will be there….they will show up….and better than the Red Cross our Helper, the Holy Spirit, will never leave us….He comes to reside, to take up home, to fill our hearts and comfort our souls…yes, even in the middle of the massive storms of life.
If your life looks like a tornado, turn to the Giver of hope….He offers solace, healing and peace in the midst of despair. Go to the place of hope. Go now.
Romans 12:12 ESV (English Standard Version)
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 15:13 ESV (English Standard Version)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Isaiah 40:31 ESV (English Standard Version)
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Romans 5:2-5 ESV (English Standard Version)