Read Nahum 2
Focus on verse 10
It has been almost ten years now since our family experienced the destructive power of a freak flash flood in the community that we called home at the time. The area had been experiencing above average rainfall over a period of about two weeks. The night of the flood a storm system stalled in the hills above our community dropping
seventeen inches of rain in the early hours of the night. The little creek that wound down through the hills and through our town turned into a tidal wave of destruction flooding approximately eighty percent of the town’s homes and businesses. The following morning the community was in shock as we began to take stock of the magnitude of the losses. Our immediate community thankfully did not experience any loss of life, though we discovered later that several fatalities had occurred further up stream. We spent the next two to three years rebuilding homes and businesses. I suspect that quite a number of people in the community are still recovering financially from the losses they experienced in those few hours of August 19th, 2007.
Nahum’s description of the destruction of the city of Nineveh describes well the feeling of that morning.
Desolation! Desolation and ruin! Hearts melt and knees tremble; anguish is in all loins; all faces grow pale! (v. 10)
In the days and weeks ahead, the feeling of desolation began to give way to the hope of new beginnings as volunteers streamed into the community to help with the clean up. Neighbors helped neighbors, and for a number of months the entire community ate meals together at the Catholic Church fellowship hall, which was built on higher ground in the center of town. The people who had been displaced from their homes were temporarily sheltered in an empty warehouse at the top of the hill on the north end of town.
It was not long before we began to realize that this disaster was either going to make us bitter, or better. Fortunately, it seemed that most people were choosing the latter. One of the things a disaster like this does for us is remind us of what is truly important. Many people lost a lot of valuable, irreplaceable things that they had stored in their homes, particularly those with basement storage. It was heart breaking to hear, but it was also encouraging to hear them conclude the account with “but it’s all just stuff”. We still have our family, our neighbors, our community.
Apparently there is some truth to the saying “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.
Some would ask where was God in the midst of this? Why would God allow this to happen? The answer to the first question is easier than the second. God was clearly right in the midst of the flood – helping an elderly resident stand on top of her kitchen counter, chest deep in cold water, in pitch darkness for over three hours while rescue crews looked for her. God was in the pick-up truck of the man who thought he was taking his last breath until a volunteer firefighter managed to get him out of the truck and to high ground. God was watching over us that night as He does every night.
The why question is not as easy. The answer might well be different for different people depending on each situation. Perhaps it was to encourage the churches in the community to learn to work together? Perhaps it was to strengthen the resolve of the business community in regard to their commitment to the community. It may have been to bring one elder man to a point where he recognized that he needed God in his life? I suspect it was all of those things and many more that I have no knowledge of.
Of this one thing I am certain. God never wastes anything. He always has a reason, and it is always a good reason. We may not understand what that is, it may not make sense to us, but it does not change the fact that God is good, and His mercy endures forever. Whether it is a time of blessing and prosperity, or a time of disaster and desolation, the character of God does not change.