This unusually orange sunset is because of smoke that has covered our entire Bay Area this past week as the result of a devastating fire that took out the entire town of Paradise, California. This photo looks like a shot from a figurative paradise, with the hummingbird, whose normal state is frantically buzzing its wings, sitting in silence gazing through the haze.
The city of Paradise is silent in ruins. Nothing left. Lives lost. A picture of devastation.
My heart is broken for all those who lost loved ones, animals, their homes, livelihoods, businesses, schools, churches—all signs of thriving life. My prayers are that you would be able to begin again. Have hope again, Thrive again. Loss is so hard. So debilitating. Sometimes freezing us in place unable to move forward.
Unparalleled distress can set the stage for unparalleled deliverance. The toughest things in life that we have to face can be where God does his richest work. If we trust him and turn it over to him just when we think we can’t bear it any more, we will be delivered to the other side of it.
Death and loss took me to my bottom in my alcoholism. I almost died in my late stages of the disease. I made it out alive. By the Grace of God and putting my trust and faith where it belonged—in HIM, not in me. I had to start over with a new me—with the help of others who stood in the gap for me, providing hope when I had none, helping me physically get back to health and learn new ways of living. Letting other people help me, when I could not help myself.
I am here to tell you that if you are still alive, there is still hope. Let people help you physically and spiritually in any way they are able to give to you and encourage you. Be willing to accept people praying for your strength and for your courage to go on. I don’t know who you are, but, I am one of those praying for you now.
Out of devastation comes stories of the unexpected—gifts of money, food, clothing and shelter. I am looking forward to hearing all of the stories of victory that come out of loss—how hope is restored. Beauty from the ashes.
For now, be comforted today by all of those praying for you and by our Gracious God carrying you when you can’t carry yourselves.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
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