It has been three months today since destruction hit Joplin, and indirectly impacted my life as my workplace was destroyed and life as I knew it was changed.
Many thoughts have come to me as I hear the stories from people at work, patients, families, that were directly impacted by the tornado. People who were in it. People who lost everything. People who lost loved ones. There are days still that my breath is taken away as I hear people tell their stories. Stories they need to tell to heal.
One thing that sticks out most to me about the tragedy is the compassion and unity that was birthed out of it. Shortly after the tornado, I started hearing things and reading thing about how the destruction was God’s fury at Joplin. I admit, that certainly enraged me. God is a God of love, and is not willing that any should perish.
While God can and does calm the storm, sometimes it is what is birthed out of the tragedy that is God’s desire, not the destruction itself. As I looked around Joplin the day following the storm, and even today three months later – one thing stands out. People helping people. On a small-scale, I know that was there before. Tragedy on the scale of what happened in Joplin, has a way of bringing people of all types together for a common cause.
People, as a whole, support the community of Joplin. They support the rebuilding. They want to help and they want to find a way to give time, money, resources. Even those with what would be considered nothing, want to help. That is to be the purpose that comes out of devastation – to wake up the world to reach out and help each other. Any other time, we go about our daily lives completely oblivious to the world’s pain around us. On occasion, we might be bothered to help a friend or family member who is in need, but rarely do people reach out and help a stranger.
And yet, that is what has been happening for the last three months. Strangers from across town, across the county, across the state, across the nation, and even across the world have been reaching out to help complete strangers. So when I hear people ask where God was, I know the answer. He was right there in the storm.
Therefore the strong people will glorify You;
The city of the terrible nations will fear You.
For You have been a strength to the poor,
A strength to the needy in his distress,
A refuge from the storm,
A shade from the heat;
For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
And when I hear people offer hurtful explanations to the destruction, I am reminded that sometimes the storm is for our blessing. Or to call us into the actions that will bring us that blessing.
Matthew 10:40-42 (NKJV) “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”