Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Tears and Praises and Prayer
Looking at the pictures I am both amazed, heartbroken and incredibly thankful.
Beginning on Monday April 25th, a series of 146 confirmed tornadoes traveled from Arkansas to Georgia and then reached even as far north as Pennsylvannia and New York, breaking, tearing and destroying for three days.
On Wednesday, April 27th, the storms traveled through Alabama causing this day to become the deadliest tornado day in the United States since the 1925. According to Image by McClammaIV via Flickrthe National Weather Service, the path of destruction from one of the storms was 80.3 miles long with a maximum width of 1.5 miles. Initially it has been given a rating of "at least EF-4", but that may be increased once heavily damaged areas have been surveyed. (The image seen here is one of the Tuscaloosa tornadoes as seen from the UAB campus,) This is the storm which destroyed so much of Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and other Alabama cities.
These storms not only destroyed houses, entire subdivisions, but in some locations destroyed entire towns. It is reported the towns of Smithfield, Mississippi, Hackleburg, Alabama and Phil Campbell, Alabama were totally destroyed by two F5 tornadoes. ( It was the first time since 1990 two F5 tornadoes have occurred on the same day.) Just imagine an entire town gone. Two entire towns gone.
In this day and time it is actually possible to watch video of some of these storms and Image via Wikipediaviewing them it is understandable the destruction they would cause. The death toll continues to climb, and will climb more than we will ever really know because there are so many "unidentified" bodies that are not yet counted in the death toll. Long after the tornadoes disaster stops being "relevant" news for newscasters, the death of loved ones will still be discovered by family members.
That evening, I watched video after video. I looked at picture after picture. With each video and each picture, my heart hurt so much for all those who have been affected by this storm. But my heart felt something else as well.
As I looked at the pictures of whole subdivisions blown away, I thought of our oldest daughter who lived for ten years in an apartment on the Black Warrior river in Tuscaloosa. In one video a meteorologist said the massive tornado followed the path of the Black Warrior river.
Trying to hide my tears, I had to go to my daughter, hug her and tell her how glad I was she didn't live there now. But I felt selfish in my own relief, selfish that I could easily hug my daughter in the comfort of our own home.
Here in the Deep South, we are used to strong winds, as we face hurricane season from June to November of each year. But with hurricanes there is time to prepare, usually time to evacuate if necessary.
Yet, I have had the experience of standing with my family in the front yard, forming a circle of prayer before leaving our home, feeling the certainty in my heart that our home would not be standing when we returned. But the wind turned, the Category 5 storm abated and nothing was lost, praise the Lord.
I can't imagine what it would be like to turn around in a matter of minutes and find everything gone. I can't imagine not even having a change of clothes or a toothbrush. . .the simplest of things. I can't imagine not having my most prized and cherished belongings: my bible, those love letters, those letters my son wrote from boot-camp, the video of my daughter's birth, the graduation announcements, the baby teeth that fell out, the little child hand-prints, those crayon drawings from so long ago. I can't imagine them flown to the wind, torn, flying who knows where to never be seen again.
These dear ones who have lost so much need so much. And thankfully there are so many who are willing to give and willing to take what is given where it is needed. We learned first hand of the kindness of strangers after Katrina. Groups from all of the country came to the Gulf Coast to help rebuild houses and one group rebuilt the house of one of our dear friends. I have no doubt these kind and giving people are already on their way to Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia to put their hammers, saws and paintbrushes to use.
But what these injured souls really need is prayer. Continued prayer. They have lost homes, and those can be rebuilt. But they have lost a sense of security, too. They have lost a sense of home. They have lost memories and many. . .too many. . .have lost family. They will grieve for a long time, but they will not grieve until the shock has worn away. They will need prayer long after most will have forgotten they even have a need.
It is so easy to forget the discomfort of others when we sit in comfort ourselves. Let us resolve to remind each other to pray for these that have lost so much.
Let us pray that they will know the peace and comfort of He who is the "Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort". Let us pray that they will know His supply that is "abundantly above all that we ask or think". Let us remember that we have been enjoined to "bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."
So let us wear these dear ones on our hearts and lift them up frequently to the Lord remembering that He "is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy".