Gratitude Day 278
Fri., May 31, 2019
Psalm 42:10 – Even my bones are in pain, while all day long my enemies sneer and ask, “Where is your God?”
Life can change literally in minutes.
Unfortunately, my friends Rob and Lisa Leach recently discovered this reality.
Rob, Lisa and their three daughters live outside of Linwood, KS on their dairy farm, Lin-Crest Farm. Late Tuesday afternoon, a mile-wide EF-4 tornado wiped out their farm. Every farm building and silo are gone. Their house sustained damage. Rob’s sister’s house is also a complete loss. At least a dozen of their 125 dairy animals were killed or had to be put down because of injuries. Unfortunately, they lost some of the greatest animals that ever grazed the farm’s hills, including animals they have shown across the U.S. Many of the surviving cattle have serious injuries requiring much veterinary care.
Rob and Lisa were home milking cows when the tornado struck. They were able to get to the basement of their house with their dogs. Their three daughters were in Wisconsin. Rob’s sister and her family rode out the storm in the basement of their house with a mattress over their heads. No family members were hurt in the storm.
Because of all the damage to the farm, vehicles could not get into the farm. As friends and complete strangers began arriving with trucks and trailers to move the remaining animals to other locations, people had to lead the animals down the driveway through the debris. On Wednesday, over 100 people showed up to express their deep concern and love for the Leach family, as well as begin the process of helping them salvage what remains of their farm.
The Leach’s are very aware that many, many other people in their community have been dramatically affected by this tornado as well. Rob has been a member of the local fire department for decades. Here are the words Rob posted on Facebook this week: “My Fire family has been incredible. More plan to come even as they have been dealing with countless emergencies in our beloved community. I can’t help but be overwhelmed with guilt for the kindness we’ve been shown. I can never repay it. We are well aware that we weren’t the only ones whose lives were affected in this little town that we love.”
I cannot imagine what Rob, Lisa and their daughters are experiencing right now. Shock, anger, disbelief and extreme sadness. Yet, their posts also reflect deep gratitude that no family member was hurt. They are terribly appreciative of all the people who have showed up to help and assist them. Already, dents into cleaning up the wreckage are being made.
When these awful events happen, it is very easy to question where God was. Why didn’t God prevent this from happening to these salt-of-the-earth people? Here’s my response:
God was there as they sat huddled in the basement with a mattress over their heads.
God was there when the trucks and trailers simply showed up to move cattle.
God was there as each surviving animal was walked down the driveway and into a trailer to be moved to their next location.
God was there when people arrived with food and water.
God was there as so many volunteers have spent and continue to spend hours reopening the driveway and helping clean up the mess scattered through the trees, over the land and piles of rubbish dotting their farmland.
God was there as vets stitched up and attended to the animals that were injured by the storm.
Maybe, even more important, God will be with Rob, Lisa, their family and others who have been affected by recent natural disasters:
God will be there as the reality of what has just happened and how this affects their future truly sinks in.
God will be there as they begin to make decisions about what is next.
God will be there as they struggle with the financial implications they will need to address.
God will be there each and every step of this journey.
And someday, God will be there when this and other countless families and begin to formulate solid next steps, which may or may not look like how their lives were before the tornado.
I cannot begin to answer why this happened. Or what is the silver lining. All I can say is that God wants to journey with Rob, Lisa, their daughters and countless others who have had their lives turned upside down through this awful storm in their lives. God yearns and desires for those who are hurting, disappointed and feeling beat up. God is not here to “fix” everything but to be another set of shoulders to help bare the burden.
If we’d read the very next verse of Psalm 42 after the one posted above, we’d read this: Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless? I trust you! And I will praise you again because you help me, and you are my God.
The Leaches – I’m optimistic that God is here to help you. God may show up in a casserole, a skid steer filled with gas and ready to rock and roll, a donation to help you survive the next period of time. God may not look exactly as you think God should look. But God arrives most often in completely unexpected and unusual ways. I pray that you will let God and the thoughts and prayers of others be your source of strength in these next days and weeks ahead.
Maybe Rob said it best with these words: “Each day will get better. We will eventually find a new normal. From the bottom of our hearts, Thank you.”
For God’s presence in our lives, especially on the rotten days, I am grateful.
Almighty God – all we can do is lift up the Leach family and others recently affected by natural disasters and pray your presence will sustain them in the difficult days ahead. Amen.
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