Tornado. That single word brings to heart and mind devastation, lives turned upside down. It all happens so quickly. A rush of wind and the damage is done. Homes are lost. All of the keepsakes of a lifetime are gone. Communities are devastated. Crops and livestock take a heavy hit. Some lose their lives.
You probably know someone who has suffered from the recent floods in Nebraska, Iowa, and surrounding areas. You may be a victim of the waters as well. If so, you have seen losses up close, perhaps the most severe of your lifetime. And now the tornados have come.
In the face of such destruction, what can be done? There are no easy words that will make everything alright. It would be the essence of cheap grace to say that “God will take care of us.” While that might be the case in the most profound sense of things, it isn’t likely to provide much comfort to the stricken.
There are many ways to provide support, encouragement, material assistance, and simple kindnesses to all who are in need. Stories abound of neighbors reaching out to neighbors to help one another. That includes strangers putting themselves at risk for someone whom they do not know. Such selfless actions are needed now and will be for quite a while. Flood damage compounds wind damage and vice versa.
And what else might be done? Perhaps a prayer on behalf of strangers, those without a home, those who have uncountable losses. Suffering is not new to persons of faith. By it we have learned not to rely on ourselves alone, but on Another.
Grace and peace,
Rev. Dr. Gary S. Eller
President, Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation