The sun came out this morning! For many days, we could not see it because Hurricane Harvey dominated nature. The welcome sun shined an optimistic light on the gloomy disaster that covers our community. Things will never be the same. Good people have lost everything. Noble lives have been lost. Sorrow and discouragement float on the watery catastrophe. What do we do now?
There must be some poignant similarities to what Noah saw when the Ark finally came to rest. When the dove came back the second time, he had a freshly plucked olive leaf in his beak. That leaf brought the promise of a new future. Then, as the waters receded, Noah saw a devastated landscape, but also a new beginning on the horizon.
In some ways, it is almost sacrilegious to think of the future. One first responder was asked how long it would take to rebuild. He answered, “Friend, I am only concerned about the next 12 hours.” In other words, right now we are focused on finding victims, rescuing the trapped, and comforting the displaced and grieving. That is presently our future.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Do not push sorrow and grief under the rug, and then ignore our pain. We are overwhelmed, and we must acknowledge the calamity that we are experiencing. Sometimes, we can be too hasty to leap-frog to the next stage, and lose this present moment. Hurting Texans need time to grieve.
Some have questioned “why” would this disaster happen to us? They might want to blame the civil authorities, or global warming, or even God. We love to place blame someplace. But that is a useless diversion. It does no good. Hot-tempered slander simply lowers our respect and dignity for others, instead of raising up the distressed and oppressed. Suffice it to say that God “sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
Tim P. VanDuivendyk, wrote the following statement in his seminal book, The Unwanted Gift of Grief: “The wilderness of grief is not just a physical place but also a spiritual and emotional place. The wilderness is the 'way' of the journey toward healing and a promised life again.” But we have to go through the “wilderness.”
In the Old Testament, the bereaved often wore sackcloth and ashes as a symbol of their mourning. David did so when Abner died (2 Samuel 3). When Jacob thought that his son Joseph had died, he put on sackcloth and “mourned for his son many days” (Genesis 37:34).
The process of grief is sacred and beneficial. It should not be hurried or disparaged. God is a healer. We must give Him time to restore us to health. The “wilderness” of mourning is the way for a new life.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). This is a promise from God. It is an “olive leaf” to assure us that a better day is coming after we pass through our “wilderness” of grief. Take your time.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)