A storm, a hurricane, tornados, flooding…. Tragedy, loss, devastation, yet in the midst, there is heroism, humanity, compassion and even beauty.
But where is God in all of this?
Where are You, God???
In the hospital, I laid in my bed. A six year old, skinned due to the cancer that claimed to be an all present evil, a life called short if left as I was born. 40% of the skin on my body was removed and I became a child left exposed, without cover, to become a wounded girl, exposed to great pain.
I screamed as the nurses came to treat and prevent infection. I loathed when they had to change my sheets daily, because my body had bled, scabbed and adhered to their fibers.
Where were You, God?
I am now 43 years old. I wear deep and ugly scars that reveal my past, my wounds. Those memories are just that- memories; yet memories so real. I can still feel the air on my open flesh. I can smell the room, I can still smell me… I unfortunately often relive the hospital chill from when I laid naked.
See, I know nakedness… I had no clothes on as I laid in my hospital bed for weeks as I healed… but a nakedness beyond nudity, one that I feel only known to me… because I know nakedness without cover of my own skin.
I looked at my little body, lying alone in that room. She was small and tiny. She laid there still. My mother was nearby, holding my hand… trying her best to pretend she wasn’t breaking….
I saw it all… because I was above it. I was able to leave. My spirit hovered and watched in moments beyond my body’s ability to endure.
Where were you God???
I realize today that You, my God, the great Creator, a good Father, were there. I was not in shock or hallucinating, I was being pulled and held by You. In those moments where the pain was so severe, or the tragedy beyond my ability to handle, You, my beautiful Savior, held me. It’s a place I am now familiar and run to in hard moments that, by others, can seem mundane.
You held me, Lord. I was not alone, or forgotten, or forsaken. You, my God, held me.
So many who have been in moments of great horror, know this supernatural moment, where we look down and see ourselves, while our bodies endure. It is evidence that we are beyond this world, that there is more to us than the flesh we wear, but the spirit within has an eternal place.
This is a powerful thought, but there is beauty beyond this. When life becomes horrific, which it does for so many, God Himself steps in and holds us. He pulls us to His arms and removes us from our pain. We watch, we endure, but we do so in His arms.
As we witness such tragedy that continues to plague our own beloved state of Texas, we see a divine beauty among our first responders and even good Samaritan neighbors, finding and seeking those in need. We stand in awe of the power of their spirit that exceeds the natural and realize a beauty that is beyond the physical.
Yet in the midst of this destruction, God is there. He is present. We see Him in those first responders, in the good Samaritan neighbors, we see Him in many of the victims who endure, and speak gratefulness for life.
My heart to those who are in the midst of a storm, alone and drowning in the horror of a tragedy beyond their control… is to assure you that you are not alone. There is a God who is in the midst of your downpour. We may not recognize His divine hand as we feel the waves crashing at our hips and the rain falling on our faces, but He is there and we will see Him if we open our eyes. He is a God who gives us peace in the hurricane, peace beyond understanding, a calm as the world swirls and whirls around us. A God who whispers that He is the One who walks on water. Yes, He is there.
For those who, like me, know the moment of looking down at your body, a moment so tragic that your spirit and body separate. This was no coincidence, it is no act of shock we like to tell ourselves is the minds ability to hallucinate. You and I know, the details too accurate, the sounds and smells too real to be a dream. I want to share with you my truth, your truth. When you were above, looking down, He was holding you. Your Father in heaven saw your suffering and because you are so precious to Him, He overruled the natural and brought you to His supernatural and held you close. If you know this moment, you are one who knows the arms of God the Creator. He has wept for you, He wept with you, He held you, He saw your tragedy… and He intervened. How precious you are to Him, how beloved you are to Him.
Today you may have scars, but God sees those scars as a wound that He touched and healed and today you wear the mark of His hand. Your scars are your beautiful. Your scars are His beautiful in your life.
For those who have loved ones you lost through tragic and even horrific ends. Let me comfort you. Know the truth of a God of grace and peace. He was there. From someone who knows this incredible phenomenon of God’s intervention first hand- the Savior, the good Father was there and in their moment of tragedy, He held them. Their beautiful spirit was pulled up into His arms and He held them tightly. Their last moments were in God’s arms, they were looking into their Saviors face, and their hearts found peace. God changed them to a witnesses, imprisoned no longer to pain.
I don’t know why God doesn’t always just stop the tragedy all together. I don’t know why He let young men walk into a furnace as punishment for not kneeling to a foreign god, but I do know God stood with those men in that furnace. (Daniel 3:1-20) They endured… but they endured with God beside them.
There is a whisper in all our hearts that is familiar, yet estranged because life has dulled its words… That whisper speaks to us when the sun rises majestically and profoundly every morning, it speaks when the stars begin to light the sky at night, it roars when we stand at the edge of the sand and watch the waves crash with beauty and force, and it calls to us when we are reminded of moments of our childhood when God touched our hearts and revealed Himself to the spirit the breathes within us.
There is a storm, a great and vicious storm around. Our world has become wicked, cruel, loud and confusing. We watch helplessly as we see others suffer, we cry as we see injustice prevail, hatred dance in our streets and nature attack. Yet in these moments beauty is revealed, trust in God is revisited, even awakened, and faith is made strong. This is no natural force within those we watch, but a supernatural divine power that makes the ordinary- extraordinary, the weak- strong, the humble- powerful and the average- beautiful.
I offer you this opportunity as the storm waters flood, to find this amazing and benevolent Father, who seeks to hold you, to comfort you, to weep with you, to weep for you. Because you are not alone. He is with you.
-written by Andrea Casteel Smith, author of Scarred Beautiful