When the phone rings at 4.15 in the morning, it’s rarely good news. And this morning was no exception. A fire. And with the fire comes it’s damages.
I drove out and found the volunteers and their vehicles from three different stations on site. The flames had been extinguished, but smoke and flashing lights filled the dark, cold morning air. A friend was on the front lawn; she had been the first to see the flames as she was driving home from her midnight shift. A nurse, and no stranger to mayhem, she stopped to call 911. She helped where she could until the first responders arrived.
I prayed with her, with the family that had arrived, and with some of the first responders. I lingered for quite a while and just tried to be an encouragement.
As I now sit and reflect on the sights, smells, and situation as a whole, I still feel the coldness of the morning chill, and the coldness that this world can bring emotionally too.
Allow me to share my brain’s ramblings …
FIRES – they happen. We may not always know why, but they do. Physical. Emotional. Relational. Spiritual. We try to prevent them. We try to be prepared when they do happen. And we pray that they never happen. But they do. You may be going through something right now, or know someone that is. The sad truth is the reality of fires. And with fires come damages. But you are not alone.
FATALITIES – they happen. And we grieve and cry and wonder why. Today, a small child (a twin of 1 year) and her father perished. The mother and the other twin survived. The journey will be long for the survivors, and we pray for their strength and their peace. Damages may differ. It may be relationships, trust, resources, or more. And no matter the extent, damages are a part of a fire’s after effect. And we all eventually feel them. You are not alone.
FIRST RESPONDERS – they are needed. I may never understand the emotional roller coasters, the stress they feel, the tragedies they witness. But I am glad they are there. They train, sacrifice, and put themselves in harms way (and they do it as volunteers here.) We need them, and I never want to take them for granted. It was the greatest sorrow I had to pray with them today. It was the greatest joy I had to pray with them today. I reminded them – You are not alone.
FAMILY – I met with the uncle and grandfather of the family. The grief was real, as were the tears. But the strength family brings is a powerful instrument God uses in the healing process. And family goes beyond blood and vows. This family also has a church (Thomas Road Baptist), and a church can be an anchor too. Shoulders to cry on. Assistance so needed. And again the reminder, you are not alone.
FAITH – tragedy can drive us from God or to God. As a pastor, I often see people at their times of desperation more than at their times of delight. They seek wisdom and answers. And often, I have none. But I challenge them not to lose faith, not to give up on God, and to hold on. Even in the dark times, the silent times, and in the lonely times, he has not left you. You are never alone.
No matter the fire you are going through, you are not alone.
Building on the words of three young boys getting ready to be thrown into a fire … our God is able to deliver us, but even if He chooses not to at this time, we still trust Him, we still believe, and we are never alone.
We also lift up in prayer the entire continent of Australia as the fires there burn beyond imagination. You are not alone.