We're still reeling from Hurricane Harvey. Conversations about loss continue to come up on sidewalks and in checkout lines. That's one thing I'm grateful for, that we're talking with one another...really talking.
Just when I think I've heard the hardest story yet, I hear another heart wrenching tale of loss. There's the stranger, who I now call friend, who tearfully recounted watching the floodwaters rise in her living room while her young daughter slept on the couch. She relayed the harrowing account of waiting for rescue as the water got higher and higher. We have a friend dealing with cancer and the flooding of his home and his workplace. Then there's the man trying to concentrate on his job while he's displaced from his home. He'd had flood insurance...until recently. There's yet another friend who'd received unthinkable bad news six weeks before the storm. Now they've lost their home and both cars. There are countless other similar stories.
In all this I've heard the same statement over and over.
I know there are those out there worse off than me.
I guess they're right. Perhaps there's one person or one family who is the utmost worst off from this storm. Even then, maybe there's a worse storm elsewhere. Here's the truth.
All storms matter.
Your neighbor may be suffering more difficult circumstances than you. You may have convinced yourself that your loss may not compare to theirs. That doesn't diminish your suffering. Your pain exists in the midst of the pain of the guy across town that you've calculated to be worse off than you.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.
...you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-30
We know you're struggling.
We know that when you say that "things are just things", you mean it, but we also know those things (your kids drawings, cherished handwritten cards and favorite books) are love in paper form. We can only imagine the difficulty in parting with memories. We know many of you are trying to find a new means of transportation. You're waiting on aid or adjusters. It's frustrating, if not maddening.
We realize that you're glad for your safety, for your life. That's healthy perspective. We also know your heart is half broken and your tired soul is split between remembering the night the waters rose and facing an unknown tomorrow, circumstancially speaking. (We hope you know who has your tomorrow in his hands).
Please allow yourself to acknowledge your loss. Don't feel the need to tell us you're fine when you're really not.
Please grieve what needs to be grieved. We are grieving with you even if we can't exactly grasp what you're going through. Because you hurt we hurt too.
We won't completely understand what it's like to lay your head on someone else's pillow night after night or how worrisome it is to wonder where you'll lay your head down next week. We can't comprehend how anxious it must feel to wonder if work will start up again soon so you'll be able to get a paycheck. For many of us, life as we know it is returning to its familiar routine. We know it's not for you. When we forget please remind us.
Maybe your storm isn't even called Harvey.
Let us know how we can help, how we can pray. Let us remind you that God knows every detail of your suffering and he does understand. He is here to help. He has a plan. He knows those things precious to you. And he wants you to know that you are precious to him.
You're struggling. It's ok to acknowledge that.
But also know that where the waters rise, hope does too.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2 ESV