Within a matter of hours I watched a creek turn into a river and cause millions of dollars of damage to homes and infrastructure. Even worse is the suffering of the displaced families. People I know, business owners I patronized, families we've fellowshipped with, my own brother, sister-in-law and neices; locked down, unable to leave their own neighborhood. My children's school friends are living in a shelter the last couple of days. This is only one town affected by the Alberta flood of 2013.
I write this post from a time of crisis. Currently the city I live in for the last two months is under water. Almost 100,000 people have been displaced. The town I left to move here is completely under water with major damage to infrastructure. I'm very blessed because for some reason the home I reside in in the city is high, dry and life is as normal. The property we own in the flooded mountain town is also high, dry and unaffected. The feeling of blessed assurance however, is clashing with the feeling of frustration as I am personally unable to rush to anyone's aid, unable to give tangible help with my own two hands. I pray. I will give. I will help somehow.
It would be easy to assume a patronizing air and begin to tell everyone that God is at work in people's hearts through suffering. I mean, this is the time right? Right smack in the middle of someone watching their $800,000 house flow down a creek with their wife and kids likely homeless, now's the time I tell them that God uses suffering to speak to people. I could get myself to the middle of the most affected and damaged areas and declare at the top of my lungs that God is using this for his glory.
I think I will refrain.
This morning in church we sang a hymn. "Great is Thy Faithfulness" seemed so appropriate. One verse in particular struck a chord in my heart, and one part of it in particular:
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.....
This is what I want to leave with people.
Do I believe that God allows and uses suffering? I do (Read Ravi Zacharias' "Jesus Among Other Gods" for a great explanation of suffering). Do I believe it can and is redemptive? Most certainly. But is this the message for right here, right now? I'm not sure. I think it's supposed to be 'strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow'. Why? Because this is what people need, right here and right now.
In the coming days we will see people coming to grips with their losses. Those that have lost loved ones will be left asking 'why'. Those that have lost all of their earthly possesions will be trying to figure out where to go from here. In the middle of all of this there will be people, just like them, giving and offering the only thing left....love. And from this come the seeds that will grow into strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
The very last words of the hymn 'Great is Thy Faithfulness' are found when the chorus is sung. It's not a song about God using suffering to teach us a lesson. It's a song about the reminder of the fact that no matter what happens, God is faithful to bring us through.
Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed thy hand hath provided
Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me.