As I’m writing this, it has been almost one week since an EF3 tornado made its 31-mile trek through central Arkansas and another one in Wynne, wreaking so much devastation and damage along the way.
What was especially noteworthy about this particular storm was the populated areas it affected, and the time of day it occurred. Many people were out doing their daily errands, some schools had dismissed early, parents were either at home, at work, or on their way to pick up their kids, and so many people were caught unaware.
I happened to have just returned home from early afternoon errands and heard the sirens, turned on the local news and actually watched the tornado as it began to make its way across Little Rock and then across the river, where I live, in North Little Rock. Like others, as I have been in conversations with several people who were in the path of the tornado, a common comment has echoed in all of them: “We always hear the sirens, but it never happens here.”
This time, as we actually watched the massive wall coming our way, we took shelter in our safe places — praying, staying alert, begging the Lord for protection for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for those who were hit, for courage and strength to face the devastation and the aftermath.
Thankfully, it did not hit my neighborhood, but it did affect so many others I know.
So many people, so many stories, so many lives and neighborhoods and businesses have been impacted.
It’s overwhelming for those who live in the areas where so much damage has occurred, and there are not enough words to describe it all.
As I have pondered this past week and been in conversations with others who were impacted by this tornado, two truths stand out to me:
God can be trusted with the danger we face and the fear we feel.
Psalm 91 is a passage that the small group of moms I co-lead has memorized in past years. This week, we pulled it back out and shared how we saw the protection of the Lord in each of our situations, and how we trusted in His promise as we faced this devastating storm.
We reminded each other that passages like this and others that describe our God in such vivid and powerful imagery are what we need to be sharing with each other, and with our kids and grandkids as we teach them how to face danger and fear. “Whoever dwells” — where?
“In the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” I encourage you to memorize this with your family so the next time you face a situation that can cause fear and anxiety, the powerful truth of God’s Word will come to mind, and you will be able to trust and endure with His strength.
God can use His church to meet real needs and share real hope in times of devastation and disaster.
We’ve all heard the saying attributed to Theodore Roosevelt: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
It has been a blessing to see church after church stepping in to offer real, tangible help to so many people impacted by this tornado. Day after day, all day long, I have seen stories of teams of people going out into their communities to serve, to offer cleanup, food, resources, showers, places to sleep, items for families who lost everything.
We can give, we can pray, we can talk about Jesus, we can study our Bibles, we can go to church. But if we are not caring for our neighbors at a time when they are most in need, they most likely aren’t interested in hearing about the Jesus we say we worship.
It can be overwhelming to know how to serve, or what is needed, but a great place to start is with someone you know or people in your area.
Just ask, just offer, just listen, just be a support and let them know you care. Just say, “how can I help?”
May we truly be people who care, who serve, and who share the real and lasting hope we have in Jesus Christ with all who need to know the saving power and grace of God.