The entire state of Florida was recently affected by Hurricane Irma who blew through with force and fury. Some portions of the state were flooded, some experienced destroyed homes, many experienced loss of businesses and possessions and most of the state went without electricity for several days. This massive storm affected a vast amount of people in a variety of ways but each one no matter what level of impact was felt, will never forget Hurricane Irma. Most of our county was out of power, gasoline to run generators was scarce, grocery stores were closed and our roads were busy with evacuees escaping the storm.
Immediately following the hurricane, people began to assess the damage. In our area, we were blessed and thankful the damage was not too extensive. There were several downed trees and many landed on homes. It will be a great challenge for those who must face repairs and clean up but it is also a comfort to know they will not walk the journey alone.
In our little town, a crew of volunteers began to clear the roads as soon as the winds passed. They removed trees from the roads to ensure safe passage. Family, friends and neighbors checked in with one another. Strangers asked one another if they had needs that needed to be met. Local churches made plans to receive disaster supplies of water, food and other necessities. Hot meals were provided by those whose power came on first, along with offers for those still in the dark to come and shower, eat or simply charge their phones. These acts of concern and sharing put love at the forefront. It helped ease the load that could quickly become overwhelming. The focus of many turned to helping one another.
Our home did not sustain any damage, just lots of tree limbs that fell and other yard debris. As I spent a day raking up the small sticks, leaves and moss which covered the ground I pondered how the wind of the hurricane blew them out and left standing a strong tree with a strong trunk and healthy leaves.
Sometimes a storm does that in our lives, it blows out anything unnecessary and exposes a strong base. How quickly our lives can accumulate 'clutter'. Attitudes, worries, stress pile up so quickly and it takes energy to sift through just to survive our daily routines. When a storm comes, it usually demands attention. We focus on the matter and the needs directly in front of us. That clutter that wasn't important is immediately cleared away. Through Hurricane Irma, the basic needs were survival and helping one another, all other things swept away and our focus was on the good of others.
As our area will never forget Hurricane Irma, the storms of life will often stay with us. There are some times in our life we will never forget. But as those trees that are still standing strong, so our lives that are tried and tested can stand strong knowing God is our foundation. Through the storms of life, He is still in control. Unimportant things may get blown away and we may feel like things are out of control. But as we turn to God, seek Him and hold on to His strength, our lives are made stronger.
May we be encouraged before the next storm comes, get rooted in the Lord and in His Word. Pray and become comfortable talking to Him as a loving Father. When hard times come and we cry out for help, it is a great comfort and strength to know our Father in heaven hears and is able to answer.
"For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit." Jeremiah 17:8