By Guery Clendening
Hurricane Michael has had a profound effect on the Panhandle of Florida. Many have lost or suffered severe damage to their homes. Jobs have been lost. Some have died. Others have simply left the area because there is nothing to return to. In a matter of hours what had been a beautiful Emerald Coast has turned into a field of destruction.
Yet, in the midst of the destruction, many stories have emerged of miracles or what some would call “the hand of God” intervening.
Like the story of the man who left his boat behind as he evacuated, and regretting that he had not taken the boat with him. When returning, he learned from his neighbor that boat had saved the lives of his neighbor’s family. Water was filling the neighbor’s house. The family was standing on furniture with only 8-12 inches of air space left to breath. Thinking this would be the end the family was saying its goodbyes. Across the street, the boat that had been left behind broke loose and landed on the side of their house where the water was coming through, blocking the water from filling the house completely. The family survived!
And then there is the story of the woman who, in the middle of the storm, felt a “strong urge” to leave her home. As the storm raged, she left, and drove to a nearby location where people were surprised to hear a knock at the door. When she later returned, she found her home completely destroyed. She knew she would never have survived if she had stayed.
In the midst of such suffering, was someone looking out for these folks?
And the response from the region and from around the nation has been heartwarming. Teams of first responders, crews from power companies, trucks and school busses filled with food, water and supplies have been sent from near and far. Non-profit organizations and church groups have volunteered to help, including tree service companies refusing to accept compensation. Remarkably, no one is asking if they are Republicans or Democrats.
I don’t have an answer as to why one area is spared and just a few miles down the road another is not. But this much I do know; we are witnessing an overwhelming outpouring of love and caring for those who have been stricken.
Could it be that the compassion shown by so many is really a representation of the one “whose eye is on the sparrow.” Permit me to share a verse from the bible, found in Luke 12:6; “What is the price of five sparrows? A couple of pennies? Yet God does not forget a single one of them.”
What does that say about God’s care for us?
A little further in the song it reads…..” his eye is on the Sparrow and I know he watches me.”
Where is God in the storm? Through the compassion and caring of those who are reaching out to those in need, we are seeing the hand of God all around us! Yes, God is the ever-present help in the time of trouble. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” (Psalms 147:3) God knows where we are and what we are going through. He will not desert us in the middle of our storm. He is here beside us. Thanksgiving is approaching. May we show our gratitude towards God’s goodness to us by continuing to help those in need!
Rev. Guery Clendening is the former Pastor of Valparaiso Assemby of God in Valparaiso, Florida and member of Destiny Worship Center in Miramar Beach.