It has been a painful week in Oklahoma—loss of life, property, and peace of mind. News reporters search for words to describe the devastation wreaked by tornados across our State. We all seek to get our hearts and minds around what it might feel like to be personally affected by such a disaster.
Clearly, it is larger than any of us can individually cope with, but not larger than what we can face together. Relief organizations, churches, sister cities, governments and individuals move in to help. As I drove through several towns in Oklahoma yesterday, I saw signs along the way “Drop off relief supplies here.” That is what neighbors do—fellow Oklahomans and fellow Americans—when tragedy strikes.
A famous quote by Robert Browning caught my attention this morning—“Out of the wreck I rise.” It is a fact that there are times when life’s circumstances feel as if a train wreck, a ship wreck, and yes, even a tornado, has just occurred smack-dab in the middle of our lives. Have you ever felt that you were at the bottom of the wreckage, trying to peek out and catch a glimpse of light? I know that I have.
What is it about out-of-control circumstances that leave us feeling wrecked? You know what I mean: It is too painful to look back; the monotonous why questions race through our minds; and those pesky “if only” thoughts taunt us as though we might have prevented the crash.
But we can’t live that way. Even if we wallow in the wreckage for weeks, months or years, our sheer endurance there won’t change anything. We can ask questions until we are blue in the face, but we probably won’t find an answer. We can “what if” for the rest our lives, but we’ll never actually know if any one of them would have yielded a different result.
So, what are we to do with our wrecks? How do we find the positive amongst the rubble, pull ourselves together, and start again? As I watched the TV coverage of the tornado damage, I prayed for those who even now must find that starting place.
Oswald Chambers made a good addition to Browning’s quote when he wrote: “Out of the wreck I rise, every time.” 1
We may not ever be able to prevent wrecks—this wreck, the next wreck, or any wreck for that matter—but as children of the Most High God, we not only can, but we must rise up out of it every time.
How? We focus on the important, not the trivial. We focus on the positive, not the negative. We focus on what we have been given, not on what has been lost. We focus on what we have, not on what we don’t have. We focus on the eternal, not the temporal.
We are intended to be overcomers—overcomers of wrecks—if you will. Life is full of wrecks, both large and small, and the world is watching to see how we face them, and how we rise up out of the ruins and recover from them.
Philippians 2:14-16 says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life….” (NIV)
Instead of smothering beneath our wreckage, we must dig out from under it. If need be, we embrace the help of others, as is the case in Moore, Oklahoma. We all have our own personal wrecks to deal with. How we handle them matters. We must latch hold of a positive word of God, a promise that will help us get a firm grip, and start shining like stars. You see, the world is watching.
My prayers and thoughts to the many precious and resilient people in Oklahoma who are suffering even now ~ Janie Kellogg
1 Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 19