November 17, 2013 will live in infamy in the Heart of Illinois forever. Now that I look back on this picture I took just before the EF-4 tornado pummeled through the city of Washington, my perspective has changed. I am no longer seeing the "calm before the storm." Rather, I see the "calm of the storm."
It can be easy to question and blame God for these unfortunate events, but maybe they could've been worse. Maybe God's hand is actually helping to PROTECT us. Take a look at the picture again. This life will no doubt bring tragedies & trials (Luke 21:11), but instead of viewing them as setbacks, we can use them to strengthen our faith, our relationships, and our communities. In no way do I wish hardship upon anybody, but I have noticed one thing that almost always arises during the re-building process... love. Broken hearts and busted homes attract renewed "can do" attitudes and selfless acts of kindness, mainly from strangers.
Social media sites are blowing up with community members volunteering their time and services. No one asked. People are stepping up, sacrificing, and reaching out to others. Where the foundations of long-standing homes and businesses have crumbled, an unspoken bond of trust is built in an instant. In this case, it didn't even take a full 24 hours for thousands across central Illinois to get moving to help their newly homeless neighbors.
And that's the silver lining. Even just one small act can get the wheels turning on a bigger movement that can change lives. As singer-songwriter Jason Gray put it:
From the ruins, from the ashes... Beauty will rise
From the wreckage, from the darkness...Glory will shine
Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted. Not one tear shed. Not one spirit crushed. Not one life turned upside down. God sees your hurt; He sees it all. He didn't promise to give us a perfect, innocent world. However, He did promise to give us His perfect love. Feel angry. Feel sad. But don't run away from Him. Through His love, your pain will fade. And through disaster and destruction, a whole world of agony becomes the advantage towards living out a more fulfilled life. Tragedy will strike again and again. The next time it does, how are you going to react?
Try to look past the storm clouds and find God's hand working through it all. He uses moments like these as opportunities for Him-- and YOU-- to shine. Through Him, we can be the silver lining in a dark, grey world.