Our area has been ravaged by natural disaster this summer. Tens of thousands of people are affected by fires. Hundreds have lost homes and outbuildings.
We have thousands of firefighters sleeping on cots in tents, after working 18 hour days trying to fight these "fire beasts." We have hundreds of arm personnel coming in for 2 week tours, helping in any way that they can. We have RCMP volunteering to come into evacuation order zones, spending time away from loved ones so that the homes that do survive the fires aren't ransacked by others. All of these service people are saying how amazing their experience has been, with the communities supporting them in any way that they can.
People have lost their houses, with all of their possessions inside. Some have built those homes with their very own hands. One family that we know of lost their house in 2010, the last year we had fires. And again this year. Twice they've had to sift through their remaining belongings hoping to save something of meaning.
Some have lost their livelihood, with countless animals, gardens and fields ravaged by the flames. Hundreds of thousands of acres of ranch land are destroyed now.
Some days, it feels like we are walking through a thick fog, just putting one foot in front of the other, searching for normal.
I have felt few feelings in my life worse than helplessness. We as humans are wired to want to control what is going on around us, and when nature takes over, we lose that sense of control. We lose our sense of safety with all of the unpredictable.
And do you know what He has done?He has brought people together.
One of the groups He brought was Samaritans purse, with some amazing volunteers, into our little town (and many others), and gave us the power to help others. His love is shining brightly through those willing to show up and serve others. Through the smoke, ashes and tears, people are going to know they are loved, even in their darkest hour.
Until He gave it back. He gave some of my family members back a sense of pride and accomplishment sifting the ashes of houses that were burnt. They were able to return some memories and tokens to those that had lost everything.
My father in law, who himself was evacuated from his house for almost 3 weeks, said he has felt the most beautiful feeling - contributing in a way that would truly make a difference. He said that he felt more in sifting through those ashes, helping out people he has never even met before, than he ever has after a day of work. There is no hopelessness in that. Only power.
You can drive in any direction from my house and find blackened trees and burnt yards or fields. But through all of that black, you can see life returning. And all you have to do is look around you to feel grateful for all you still have.
I don't know where you are walking today, but I do know that you are not alone. Even if the path seems barren and hopeless, there will once again be light. I know we are not the only one facing the ravages of natural disaster. But you are not alone. And He will get us through it. I pray that you can be a light to someone through all of this. That the love of Christ would shine through all of this so brightly that He could no longer be denied. That the overflow of water and the reaches of the flames would be no match for the love of His people. In faith I pray. Amen.
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.