These are truly interesting times that we are living in. Recent days have brought catastrophic storms that have destroyed properties and lives. Entire communities have been devastated. And then just four short days later, half around the world, we learn that Usama bin Laden has been killed, ending his reign of terror. On the one hand, those impacted by the deadliest of tornadoes are asking – where is the justice? Then the events of Sunday’s killing of the world’s most hated and despicable terrorist caused billions to sigh a relief that justice was finally delivered.
I think it is safe to say that our spirits have been discouraged for a long time courtesy of the Great Recession. And the devastating natural disasters that seem to be growing in number and frequency have certainly delivered personal tragedy and heartache to millions. What should we make of these events? Should we be discouraged, devoid of faith, depressed? Does the closing of the final chapter of the 9/11 tragedy provide enough confidence and faith to make up for all the destruction?
Easter Sunday brought to the Christian world its annual hope in resurrection, renewal, and revival. And just three days later, communities throughout the southern United States looked much like those of our neighbors in Japan who had suffered at the hands of an earthquake and tsunami. This past Sunday, my Sunday school class discussed these tragic events seeing answers. We revisited the themes like – “How does a loving God allow such devastation? Where was God last Wednesday?”
By the end of the hour, our discussions enabled us to get back where we needed to be. We needed to be faithful and trusting. We need to hold on to the knowledge that God has not forsaken us. He was in all the basements and bathtubs that our friends and neighbors sought shelter in. He was with the army of meteorologists who gave us updates of where the storms were and where they were going. He was with community first responders and emergency personnel who rushed in to serve and minister to their neighbors after the storms moved through.
Although it has been only seven days since the horrific storms, armies of volunteers have ministered to our neighbors. Our government agencies from local to federal are in place to serve those affected. Churches are receiving donations of all types that can be distributed to those in need. Our local governments have sent and continue to send public works crews and public safety teams to assist their colleagues. It is in times like these that we truly witness the best in all of us. Neighbor helping neighbor …
The citizens of the United States have always been the first to respond to tragic events and reaching out the hand of assistance to our global neighbors. Our military, whose first mission is the defense of our nation, is also the best prepared for offering aid and comfort in times of natural disaster. The United States is a benevolent and loving nation. We, more than any other nation, seek to help our neighbors every time we are called upon.
If the world was perfect, what would we miss? If the world was perfect, we would have everything given to us. We would lose our perspective of how much something means to us when we work for it and earn it. If the world was perfect, we would not need others (our family, our friends, our neighbors). But when the effects of an imperfect world deliver tragedy, we once again realize what is really important.
And sometimes we tragically lose that which is most important – our loved ones. There is nothing I can say in my insignificance that can console one who has lost a loved one. But I can be there for them. I can mourn with them. I can visit them often after the masses go on with their lives. I can give in ways that deliver a sense of normalcy.
You are probably thinking what does any of this have to do with the Chamber of Commerce. My answer is - everything. It is my privilege and honor to work on a team that works everyday striving to make our community a better place. We work collaboratively with hundreds who want our community to be all that it can be. We work to provide opportunity to all who make our community home.
And the events of the last few days reinforce that what we do makes a difference. Even when it seems that all is lost, it is not. Much of what we value is temporary in nature and can be taken from us at a moment’s notice. But that which is permanent and meaningful lives in all of us – our compassion, our love, our gifts, and our desire to serve each other.
Over the next few weeks, let’s all do what we are able to do in providing temporary living arrangements for our neighbors. Then let us partner in helping to rebuild their communities. Thank you for the opportunity to serve our amazing community, our region, our state, and our nation.