Survivors are a reminder of faithfulness

By REV. DARRYL WOOD / Guest Columnist

Maude, an 86-year-old widow, sat in a lawn chair underneath one of the few trees left on her property in Lawrence County. While serving as a Disaster Relief Chaplain the weekend after the April 27 tornadoes, I approached Maude.

After introductions I asked, “How are you?” She looked over her shoulder at her roofless house. Then she peered down the hill in the other direction to the crumpled church building where she worshiped. With her bottom lip quivering and her eyes moist, Maude raised her hand to the sky and began to sing, “I will trust in Him. . . .” Maude testified to the sufficiency of her faith. She’ll recover.

Earlier that morning, I attended an outdoor worship service at Mount Hope Baptist Church in the same county. Among the congregation were bereaved friends of some who lost their lives. Others whose houses were reduced to rubble sat in the crowd. And a few business owners and farmers whose livelihoods disappeared on that fateful Wednesday night attended.

Pastor Ricky Watt expressed thanks for the courageous survivors and the unending labor of volunteers. His message of hope and the prayers for healing in that community inspired all present. I returned home after my assignment to reflect on the gift those fine people gave me. They reminded me of the strength of the faithful in the midst of a storm.

Sadly, dozens of people with whom I visited expressed no such faith. Devastation and despair reflected off their faces. They asked, “Why me?” “Will it get better?” “What am I supposed to do now?” My feeble presence seemed inadequate.

But I left each with the message that God never discards anyone. He knows their hurts and cares about each individual circumstance. The Psalmist said, “Let all who take refuge in You be glad, . . . and may You shelter them.” (Psalm 5:11). The hope of God’s shelter can sustain the homeless, the bereaved, and the shell-shocked.

Join me in praying for the thousands across our nation undone by the ravages of the April storms. Search for ways to volunteer your help or offer aid. And never forget that your storm may be next. Have you found refuge in the Lord’s shelter? He will uphold you when the winds blow.

The Rev. Darryl Wood is pastor of the First Baptist Church Vincent. You can reach him at dwood132@bellsouth.net.