My phone chimes and the words, “I’m fine” pop up and I breathe a sigh of relief.
“I can’t call out, but I’m OK” reaffirm the message from my son in Oklahoma. That was 13 days ago – almost two weeks. A few days later he told me of his experience and sent a video of the twister he witnessed as it tore through Moore.
That Monday I watched and listened with numb emotion as the news reported the devastation. I tried to imagine the fear that gripped the hearts of parents as they waited to be reunited with children making their way out of the rubble that was once their school and the horror and grief of those whose children did not emerge. I hurt for them as I tried to imagine their loss, but honestly, I knew I couldn’t comprehend the depth of their pain. I had not suffered loss and all I really felt was relief.
This week, while I was talking to my son, a casual reference to the destruction and clean-up that still remain for the people in Oklahoma made me suddenly realize how quickly I had forgotten what had happened to those families directly impacted by the tornado less than two weeks ago – families who were again hit by storms last night. Storms come and go and are quickly forgotten by most of us – unless you’re the one whose home is gone or the one who will never hold their precious child again.
How quickly we forget the hurting. I remember the day after my husband’s funeral watching cars pass on the county road in front of our house and thinking how odd it was that people were going to work and resuming life as usual while my life seemed stuck, frozen in a state of shock, empty and unreal. I think of the family in Lubbock who recently lost a son. They may be just beginning to feel pain as the numbness wears off and reality begins to set in.
The tornado in Oklahoma reminded me of Christ’s words in Matthew 5:45, “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.” I know from my own experience that God uses circumstances – both good and bad – to open our eyes to the true conditions of our hearts and to draw us to himself, and I know He is still at work in the lives of those families and individuals in Oklahoma. But when I look at the context of this passage it is found in the middle of a message on how we are to love our enemies. (verses 43 -47) If we are to do good to those who hate us and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute us, how are we to treat those to whom we have no animosity – those caught in the midst of the rain…in the midst of the storm? How should we treat those who are hurting and those who are trying to rebuild? How do we treat those who are still trying to grasp the reality of a tragic loss?
Sometimes we can do nothing more than pray for those we don’t know and can’t reach, but sometimes the best thing we can do for those we know are still hurting, those whose lives are still numb, those still trying to rebuild, those still trying to find ‘normal’ and still trying to find joy, is let them know we haven’t forgotten.
Yesterday, Oklahoma was once again hit by storms. Let us not forget the people there and others we know who are suffering loss.
Lord, give us compassion for the hurting and a heart that is tender lest we forget.