The other night as I sat reading in bed, I began to smell smoke. It wasn't close or anything (like in my house!), but it was near. My husband, who is retired and on alert for things in the neighborhood went out to investigate. There was apparently a house fire a couple of streets over. Because it was dark, we couldn't see exactly whose house it was or even the amount of damage. And in the morning, the front facade of the house didn't even look damaged. But the fire trucks in front of the house the evening before testified to the event, for sure.
A few weeks ago a fierce storm whipped through the neighborhood. It uprooted a few large trees into people's houses. They are just now clearing away the huge stumps left over. And some houses have blue tarps on their roofs and some have bricks in the yard from the chimney that collapsed where the tree hit it. Again the front of the houses looked undamaged, until you saw the brilliant blue on the roof.
Life is full of uncertainties. If ever there was a cliche to write, that is it. But just because it's been said hundreds of times before, does not mean it isn't true. Each day brings new experiences. Some of them are almost exactly like the day before and the day before that. But sometimes they are larger, more catastrophic and even scary. I have heard people attribute these happenings to God. And it makes me angry. I don't believe that God wiggles his pinkie finger and causes the trees to topple in storms. Or he blinks his eyes and causes horrendous floods like the ones which happened recently. Why would a God who has loved us through time, make something like that happen to his beloved creations? But neither do I believe that God just sits and watches as we struggle through whatever adversity comes our way.
I have been taught, and learned through experience, that God is with us at all times and in all places. From the falling of the Twin Towers to the scraped knee of a kid learning to ride a bike. In ALL times and in ALL places. If you read the Bible you will see his presence with us, not preventing things from happening, but standing with us when those things happened. For a society that prides itself on "doing it myself", this may be uncomfortable. But while in the midst of a crisis, nothing is more comforting than knowing there is someone there to lean on, to listen to you, to comfort you. Our front "facades"; those faces the world sees can hide our pain, our discouragement and our fear. But the God of my faith is standing right next to you and me, just waiting for a chance to put a tarp over our roofs and help us through whatever we are feeling. But there is a catch of sorts. You have to let him in. Our God doesn't tramp his way into your troubles uninvited. That free will thing is kind of a bummer. But true nonetheless. Opening your heart to God is like opening the windows on a new Spring morning. The fresh breeze of his love for you will come in and comfort and abide. But you have to be willing to open the window to get it.
The neighborhood where I live is really no different, or maybe even that different from yours. Things happen everyday. But the God of our faith is there with us in the midst. With us. Emmanuel. I pray that you will feel his presence with you.