For much of the summer, wild fires raged in the Northwest, consuming much of Montana and Washington.
Just last month, the Southeastern portion of the U.S. and the islands were devastated by hurricanes.
Close on the heels of the hurricanes was a massive earthquake in Mexico.
Two weeks ago, a lone shooter gunned down over 50 innocent people at a country music festival in Las Vegas.
As I write this, California is on fire. Populated areas are being threatened, including homes and businesses.
Close to home, the Anaheim Hills Fire is ravaging through Orange County. Farther north, several counties in Northern California are being consumed by fire.
Even though some of these events took place thousands of miles away, I would guess that you know someone who was personally affected.
My best friend knows a young man that was gunned down in Las Vegas. She will attend his funeral this weekend.
I had a short trip planned to visit my sister in Santa Rosa this last few days (Oct 11-14). Her city is being leveled by a fire that is not only minimally confined. Hotels, restaurants, department stores, expensive homes, mobile homes, a fire station, vineyards…nothing is safe.
Businesses that are not threatened cannot open because their employees are unable to get to work. Roads are closed, some employees have lost everything, some have been evacuated from their homes and don’t have the essentials to be ready for work.
I have been visiting my sister in Santa Rosa for the last 45 years, and am very familiar with the city and the area. You might have read that an Applebee’s burned to the ground. I ate there during my last visit. It becomes real when it’s more than a headline.
SO WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN TO US AS PEOPLE OF FAITH?
God does not stop bad things from happening. Don’t get mad, don’t blame God.
It is up to each of us to be the light in someone else’s life and the light in our own. We are called to be the Good Samaritan.
Think of the heroes in Las Vegas who stayed by a stranger’s side while they took their last breath. They were able to offer nothing by themselves.
I think about the emergency instruction on the airlines. Put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others.
You are not physically able to hold someone’s hand in Florida, or Mexico, or Las Vegas, or Santa Rosa. But you are able to spiritually wrap your arms around them. Pray for those who have lost their homes, everything they own, even their lives. Even those who are waiting out a tragedy, now knowing the outcome, are mentally tortured. Pray for them to be strong. Pray for the heroes—first responders and the common man.
Be the rainbow in the storm.