It’s taken me a long time to actually be able to articulate what I’ve been feeling this past week. I still haven’t fully processed it all, but I’ve had some time to think about what happened and what I do know is this: one week ago a tornado tore through the city of Tuscaloosa, and many other cities in the southeast. It flattened buildings, it tore roofs off of houses, it took the lives of friends and loved ones, it completely devastated the city and the lives of thousands of people. But the tornado also did something else. It tore down the walls. And I don’t just mean the walls of buildings, but the walls in hearts and the walls we’ve built between God and the world. It tore down these walls, and when the walls come down, genuine worship can finally emerge. Geniune worship in the form of rescuers pulling survivors from the rubble, genuine worship in the form of college students serving in any way possible, genuine worship in the form of people realizing they have nowhere else to turn but to God, genuine worship in the form of hands being raised and hearts opening in need of an all-powerful God who saves.
“I’m reaching for the One who brought me out of death and into life,
but i can’t lift my hands high enough,
lift my hands high enough,
when I’m reaching for You my God”
~ Phil Wickham
I’ve struggled over the past few days with asking God why this happened. I know that everything is ultimately for His glory and His righteous purpose and it’s not my place to ask why, but sometimes it is just so hard to understand when all you can see is chaos and disaster. I know I’m supposed to be praising God in the midst of this storm, but how can I do this when I don’t see anything good in this situation? Then I remember a quote from David Rhodes, our speaker on Spring Retreat, “in the end God will make it all good, if it’s not good now, then God’s not done yet.” That seemed so simple to me at the time. Okay, well if it’s not good now, then God’s not done yet. Well it’s not good now. There is so much hurt and pain in this city and it won’t be good for a long time. But that just means that God has a plan of healing and redemption in this city and He won’t stop until that plan is brought to completion. And the amazing thing is, WE are a part of that plan! We have been saved, in every sense of that word, so that we can be God’s hands and feet in this broken city.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” ~ James 1:17
“Every good and perfect gift is from God” and every gift from God is good and perfect. This is true right now more than ever. This disaster was a perfect gift from God, no matter how difficult that is for us to understand. Even though this was so hard for me to see initially, I’ve gotten a small glimpse of it in the time I’ve spent in Tuscaloosa. I’ve seen it in the way that the church has come together to serve their broken community, i’ve seen it in the way that people are praying with conviction and urgency, and i’ve seen it personally in my own life in the way that God is changing and molding me through this. No, this is not a gift that we asked for or wanted. To us it might seem imperfect and flawed, but it is from God. It is perfect. No matter how hard it might be, we need to praise God in the midst of this disaster, because it is through these seemingly imperfect gifts that God actually perfects us.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
~ James 1:2-4
God’s not done yet. And neither are we.