I normally keep all posts on this blog related to fiction authors, new fiction releases, industry news, and book reviews. But, the town where I live is currently enduring a firestorm that has destroyed over 340 homes, damaged hundreds more, shut down roads, caused businesses to be lost, and disrupted tens of thousands of lives.
As the fire continues to burn in wildland areas, people are faced with overwhelming tasks that include finding housing, repairing damages, cleaning up soot and ash -- and simply deciding what to do next.
So many are asking where God was in the midst of the fire when it jumped the ridge late Tuesday afternoon on June 26th and barreled down the mountain toward the Mountain Shadows subdivision. Thousands were and are wondering how God could allow something like this to happen. After all, isn't He a gracious and loving God who protects, not harms?
Yes, God is that, but one of the most difficult concepts for us in our finite minds to comprehend is while God *is* in control, we still live in a fallen, sinful world. And that means the results of sinful acts are still going to cause harm to both people and things. If God stopped all pain, all hurt, and all destruction from happening, He would also be eliminating our free will as humans. We'd be nothing more than puppets at the mercy of the Master's hand. And then our choice to follow God and accept Jesus' salvation would mean nothing. It wouldn't be a choice.
This firestorm, I believe, has woken up a lot of people. As one of the pastors of our church told me Tuesday, people are a great deal more receptive to hearing God's Word now. They are searching for something in the wake of this disaster, and the small seeds which have been planted are ready for the watering so the truth of God's love can grow on their hearts.
God promises in Isaiah 43:2, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." (NIV) Pay close attention to the word "through." This doesn't mean we won't face any tribulation or any harm in our lives. We *do* have to pass *through* the waters, the rivers, and the fire. But God is right there holding our hands, lifting us up, covering us, and providing for us, even when we face loss.
This loss has hit our town hard, but we're rallying around and taking care of our own. The outpouring of support, donations, and volunteering has been astounding. You ask where God was? He's been right here all along. And He's showing Himself through the generosity of all who are giving of their time, their money, their talents, and their homes, to help those in need. God hasn't gone anywhere. But is your heart open to seeing His handiwork?
(photos above copyright aerial photographer, John Wark. First photo is my personal one from the early hours of the fire breaking out, and the final photo is being circulated all over the Internet)
9 hours ago