Hurricane Sandy ~ One year later
It happened exactly one year ago today. Hurricane Sandy came like a thief in the night, creeping in at the midnight hour and stealing what seemed so certain, so sure. With the morning sunrise came the harsh reality that Hurricane Sandy had stripped almost everything away.
And the stripping away wasn’t just in the material sense. The hurricane also stripped away whatever false sense of control and self-reliance I had that I didn’t know I held so tightly.
But, what I couldn’t see then but I can see so clearly now is this: the stripping away made space for God – God Himself- to fill the empty space. And He didn’t just fill the empty space. He filled it to overflowing.
So today is a day of thankfulness. Deep, profound, raw thankfulness – because exactly one year ago today, our family was forever changed by Hurricane Sandy.
Here is a small excerpt from what I wrote last year after Sandy hit. (You can read the entire thing here.)
Last Sunday started like every other Sunday does……
But then the call came. The one that said we were under mandatory evacuation and had to be out of our house by sunset. Hurricane Sandy had gone from bad to worse and everyone in our little neighborhood on the water was forced to flee.
We rushed home and packed up the things that matter most. Funny how times like this remind you of what “matters most.” I grabbed things like photo albums, the journals I keep for each of the boys, all of my research, my Bible, a few of the books I’ve been eager to read, and some essential files – and threw them in the trunk of the car. We lifted as much as we could off the floor in the event of a flood, and headed 30 minutes northwest to stay with friends who were on safer ground. It happened that fast.
And there we were- three families with a combined eleven kids between us- bracing for what was ahead.
I remember curling up with a book that night – the one I started reading only several days before when the name Sandy meant nothing to me- called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. And I remember thinking, “Fitting book to be reading as I wait for the water to rise and pursue all my earthly treasure.”
I read each page of One Thousand Gifts slowly, underlining amazing words of wisdom like:
“Eucharisteo – thanksgiving- always precedes the miracle.”
“Life changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time.”
I closed the book and went to bed assuming this kind of thankfulness was something I was going to need to hold onto but having no idea what it would come to mean to me in the days ahead.
Mercy. Blessing. Grace. God.
When I wrote those words I really had no idea how very much we would need to be anchored in thankfulness during the five months after Hurricane Sandy - the five months where we tried to put the pieces back together while we lived in the basements and guest houses of gracious friends and waited (and pleaded!) for God to give us answers to our questions, and solutions to our problems.
And when I didn’t see Him working or moving - Better said, when words failed me and hope was just a four-letter word, when my soul felt crushed and the tears wouldn’t cease, when it felt like God was distant and silent, I would cling to Isaiah 30:18, reciting the verse over and over again until it made it’s way deep down in my soul, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”
We were wholly reliant on God, and in the waiting for Him to “rise up and show compassion” we were held and carried. Held. And. Carried. His presence had never been so palpable.
Friend, this has been the most challenging, and yet the most beautiful, year of my life. Learning how to trust and give thanks in the uncertainty, in the doubt, in the fear - It was His gift to our family. It's true, what Natalie Grant sings - "When you feel the rain, call His name, He'll find you in the hurricane."
I’m a fallen girl who prays more fervently, “Lord, rearrange the pieces of my heart to make it look a little more like Yours. Melt me, mold me, use me. Be praised in this one life of mine.”
I’m a girl more in love with her Savior, ..... because though I’ve certainly been through hell and high water before, I’ve never come more face to face with my weakness and frailty – spiritual, physical, and emotional weakness and frailty. And I’ve fallen on my knees with open hands, assured once again, that His grace is truly enough, and His grace is truly a gift. Not to be earned, and certainly not deserved, yet poured out lavishly for the broken and weary. I’ve tasted the sweetness of His grace, and I worship in awe of His mercy. How amazing that He loves us ragamuffins that much?
“It is a kindness when He strips us of self-reliance, because it is there in our emptiness and brokenness that we experience the privilege of His sustaining grace. Our weakness is the place where we learn to depend on His power. When we’re stripped of everything that we thought we could trust in, when we’re absolutely desperate for help, the Lord moves into our circumstances and demonstrates His power.” (Give them Grace, pg. 152)
So this is the deal - I’m facing a new season of uncertainty, and doubt and fear are trying to fight their way back into my heart. (Hear me on this, ...... trust and thankfulness are not things I’ve mastered. I don’t think we ever do. If we did, we wouldn’t need Jesus.)
But the gift in Hurricane Sandy was the lesson I carry with me: When fear and doubt cling to your heart, Pause and Praise Him. His grace is enough. His power is made perfect in weakness. He will rise up and show compassion.
I will recall His faithfulness and give thanks for His grace. Because I now know, giving thanks for His grace changes everything.
Psalm 42:5-6 (NLT) Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!
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