[Editor’s note: This coming week is the one-year anniversary of the Borderline shooting and the Woolsey fire, events that had great impact on our local communities. Kellie Van Atta’s meditation, written last November, reminds us of both the heart-rending sorrows and the moments of beauty we shared in during the aftermath of these cataclysms.]

We praise God for our church family, for people who write updates, offer beds, send texts, clean debris, and show love—even in the darkest of times.

We praise God for the safety of our church building, for the many services and events that will continue to occur in that beautiful place because of the protection of God and heroes.

We praise God for our local community and heroes. For people donating blood, firefighters fighting fires, police officers showing valiance, leaders comforting students, and countless unsung heroes serving others.

And in this hard time we give thanks for a God who is all we need.

“God is our refuge and strength, our ever-present help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1-2).

We need comfort, and God sends His Spirit, the Comforter.

We need shelter, and God sends His people, and we find peace in the shelter of each other.

We need peace, and God sends His Son, the Prince of Peace.

We need a shoulder to cry on, and God gives us His Son, who also experienced grief, who reassures us, tears in His eyes, as He feels our pain.

And even as we grieve and fear, we are aware of another need.

We need God’s grace; we need His forgiveness. Tragedy reminds me that I am selfish. I lack the level of faith and trust that I aspire to have—I’m more concerned with my comfort than His Kingdom.

We need God’s grace, and He sent His Son. And through Christ’s death and resurrection, He brings light from darkness, hope from hopelessness, and beauty from ashes.