I live in Alabama. Yesterday my beautiful state was one of six states that was dealt a terrifying hand as all of the necessary ingredients came together to birth the worst tornado outbreak the South has seen in nearly 40 years. My state was hit hardest. At present count, there are 162 people dead in Alabama alone.
Overall, in all six states, the count now stands at 248 dead. These on top of those killed earlier this week by another storm system that swept through the South.
…much beloved…now lost. Some young. Some old. Some died alone. Some died with their families.
248 people who are never coming home.
248 people accountable to God.
In the midst of all the swirling fury, my family, located somewhat below the hardest hit areas, was blessed. The sky was rolling, the clouds were alive with electricity, but, in the end, in my area, most all was well. Our lights went off briefly during which time my 12-year-old daughter kept her younger brothers and younger sister comforted and entertained by a as-she-went-along-made-up-story. She kept me somewhat distracted as the sirens screamed through out little town. As I sat there, in the flickering candlelight, knowing my family was safe, I was contented. I was also prayerful. I wasn’t sure what was going on in my own town but I knew what was going on elsewhere in my state. Just before our lights went out, one of my older sons had called me to watch the storm coverage on the Weather Channel. We had watched in dread as a raging, very large, very powerful, tornado swept down on Birmingham. As I watched I kept thinking “all those lives, all those homes” and I prayed, over and over and over again, “God, please be merciful. Please spare lives. Please protect. Please glorify Yourself. Use this so that You may be known.”
I believe God heard me as I’m sure He heard many, many others who were also praying. He heard the many who, like me, watched from a safe distance with the growing certainty that many lives would be lost; He heard many who were in the path of the storm as they called out to Him…perhaps during the very last moments of their lives. He’s hearing us, still.
Today, the storm is over and the South is left to pick up the millions upon millions of pieces left behind. Our response must be one of prayer, one of service, one of doing for others as we would wish them to do for us if it had been us…for surely it could have been.
God has show grace to me and to my family by protecting us during this historic storm. God has shown grace to the South in that, even though the death-and-destruction-toll is horrendous, it could have been so much worse. It is now our turn to show grace to each other through prayer, through service, through compassion, through love. While we’re serving, let us remember to proclaim the truth of God’s Word. Those who are left behind to pick up shattered remains of their lives need to know that God lives, God is in control, God is there…and He is trustworthy...no matter what. They need to know He is a God Who loves…and they will know this as they see us love them, serve them, care for them…as if they were our own…for they are.
So, please join me and let’s get down on our knees in prayer for those affected by these storms and, then, let us rise up to work. Let us serve our neighbors, our people and, in the doing, let us serve our Lord.
May He be glorified.