We stood mesmerized as we watched the approaching black sky. The tornado sirens wailed in the distance. Torrents of rain pelted the ground, creating miniature rivers as the raindrops chased each other down the slope of the parking lot. A “Code Gray” was announced over the loudspeaker and patients were guided to the basement of the clinic to wait until the weather warnings were lifted for our town.
People crowded in the hallways of the lower level, corralling their kids, bent over their smart phones or glued to the weather channels on TV. Rumors crackled across the room like the lightening across the sky outside. Waiting. Watching. Wondering.
Then the warning lifted. The “Clear” was called out.
And we went home.
On my drive back, the radio appropriately played Casting Crown’s “Praise You in This Storm.” (For real.)
I thought about those who didn’t get an “All Clear” this past week. Who didn’t get to drive home because they no longer had a home to go to. Those whose town or homes had crumbled to the ground in a moment—or worse, whose hearts crumbled at the loss of loved ones in the recent tornadoes.
Such loss. I struggle to wrap my mind around it. Any type of loss can be devastating…but to lose everything…in an instant.
Tragedies like this nudge me (and sometimes knock me over the head) to be grateful. To have a greater awareness of the blessing of each breath, each day, even each material blessing. Life on earth is fragile and unpredictable, but may that fact only lead us to a deeper gratitude for and hope of a life in heaven.
That which is seen is fleeting, but that which is unseen is certain. What a paradox.
As I imagine myself in their shoes…to waking up without a home, a grocery store, a workplace—everything that creates and colors my little world…I find myself thinking about what really defines my life. Do I become too attached to the outer circumstances of my life? To routines, activities, creature comforts?
If it was all taken away in an instant, would I still bless the Lord “who gives and takes away,” as Job did (Job 1:21)?
Maybe I don’t want to know the answer…but maybe I should. And while I’m soul-searching, I’ll lift up my prayers for those who are living the reality of having everything taken away…
Lord Jesus, loving Friend and Healer, I lift up these dear people to you. Hear our prayer for these brothers and sisters who are reeling from such tragedy. Hold them and embrace them in their grief. Walk beside them as they take one step at a time in recovering and rebuilding. We ask you to pour out comfort, strength and hope into their lives throughout this time. Amen.