Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire

First the good news: we’re not likely to face a week as stressful and exhausting as the one we’ve just endured for a long time. Now the bad news: this past week has been once of the most heartbreaking and traumatic many of us have faced in years, even decades. If you’re anything like me, you are feeling worn thin, wrung out, and bone weary. And it’s going to take a while to unpack these concentrated traumas.

What are we to think, as we grieve the shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill that has added “the safest city in America” to the grim list of communities that have experienced mass shootings? What are we to think, when the very next day we simultaneously experienced the Hill Fire and the Woolsey Fire that led to mass evacuations and to the loss of dozens of homes? I’m reminded of Amos 5:19, “…as if someone fled from a lion, and was met by a bear; or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall, and was bitten by a snake.”

What are we to make of all this? For starters, when we suffer trauma and loss, we grieve. And I believe we’re at our best when we grieve together, bearing each other’s burdens, praying and caring for one another, singing and lamenting in major and minor keys. We do all this especially as a church family, but we also grieve in our neighborhoods and larger communities as we remember our shared humanity.

Secondly, we help one another. We dig out and rebuild. We listen and learn. We share our stories and our resources. We seek to make a better world by binding up wounds, creating more just laws, improving life for everyone, and overcoming evil with good. Carrie had a friend who rear ended another driver this past Thursday evening as she was evacuating the fires. The other driver, after pulling over, looked at Carrie’s friend and said, “It’s been a hard day. Let’s just let this one go.”

Third, we celebrate God’s grace wherever we find it. We thank God for the small miracles in the midst of big tragedies. We look for the hidden ways in which God brings good out of evil. We honor heroes who stand tall and heroes who fall in the line of duty. We say “thank you” to all who opened homes, offered safety, shared information, cooked food, made thoughtful preparations, and effectively carried out emergency plans. We celebrate how when life and nature give us their worst, we humans have the capacity to come together and give our best.

We won’t soon forget November 7-9 of 2018. But my prayer is that as we grieve together, help one another, and celebrate God’s hidden grace, we will find the miracle of new life sprouting up when death and destruction once threatened to overwhelm us.

Love in Christ,


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