By Karen Hendricks
Prayers and thoughts are with everyone whose lives were suddenly affected by tornadoes in Oklahoma yesterday. The images, the loss of life, the stories, and the destruction are all difficult to comprehend. The fact that many of the victims are children is heart-breaking.
I heard the lieutenant governor of Oklahoma being interviewed last night on national television and he spoke to the fact that Oklahoma residents will survive this tragedy since they are people of great faith, having been through many previous tornadoes and other disasters such as the Oklahoma City bombing. It is impossible to understand how and why natural disasters happen, but having faith can help you move on and look ahead.
Last summer, I was blessed to accompany a church youth group headed to New Orleans for nearly a week’s worth of service projects, worship and enrichment. Hurricane Katrina devastated this great American city in 2005, and New Orleans is still in need of help today. But last summer, thousands of youth from across the country gathered for the ELCA National Youth Gathering, a gathering of Lutheran youth that takes place in a city of need every three years. A devotion printed in the Bibles given to all attendees has stuck with me, and I think the message might help us to say prayers of peace for Oklahoma today:
Our God is a God of peace. Where there is division, walls, hostility, God reconciles us together. Heals us.
Our God is a God who mends. Making what was once a million pieces into one complete whole.
Our God is a God of comfort. When we are afraid, scared of our own shadow, God is close. Closer to us than the air we breathe. Speaking words of peace, ‘Be still, dear one.’ Peace is with you.
Our God is a God of life, calling each of us to live in the hope of a new humanity shaped not by fear, but by the peace of Christ. Truth is: you may still be afraid and that’s okay.
Truth is: God is with you, claiming you, comforting you, calling you to look past your fear, to find in this life the deep peace of God and hear the words you need so desperately to believe: ‘Be still my child. Be still.’
May all those whose lives were ripped apart by Oklahoma’s tornadoes take comfort in the enveloping love of God’s embrace today and in the days to come. May we reach out as we’re able and lend a helping hand.