This story is based on a true account, written from the imagined perspective of a homeowner. The setting is Hackleburg, Alabama, where F-4 and F-5 tornados left destruction and despair in their wake.
Our world has crashed around us. The unsightly debris scattered all over our twenty-one acres and beyond represents the once comfortable and happy life of the past forty years with my wife. The beautiful trees surrounding our home are a huge, twisted, ugly mass of destruction. The rolling land, usually so beautiful in spring, now looks naked and bare. Our house is scattered to the four winds. Only a few walls remain where my wife and I and our six-week-old grandson huddled in fear during the terrible storm. Our great grandson now has no mother; she was killed in her house a quarter mile away.
I stand in the midst of this destruction. My heart is bleeding. The losses and dramatic changes in my life seem more than I can bear. I believe in you, God, but I need some reassurance that you care and know about my plight. Does Jesus care when my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks? Does He know the hurt and pain I feel? Does Jesus care about me now? Right now I’m not sure.
My thoughts are interrupted by a touch on my shoulder. I look up to see a man beside me who says he is here to help. He has tears in his eyes and a catch in his voice. His hand on my shoulder feels like healing salve on an open wound. No, the pain doesn’t go away, but here is someone who really cares—I can feel it.
Trucks and equipment start coming in my driveway. The leader of the group asks, “What do you want done?” I’m overwhelmed. They have chain saws, loaders for brush and debris removal, a trailer full of equipment, and, best of all, they have manpower!
Does Jesus care when the burdens press and the cares distress? I’m beginning to think He does.
A father and son start sawing away branches. Several teenage boys full of youthful energy enthusiastically join in. These people left their jobs and families for a week and voluntarily traveled many miles to help us in our dilemma. Why did they do it? I realize it must be the love of God at work in their lives that motivated them and brought them here. I believe God answered my big question—does Jesus really care? Here is living proof—Jesus knows all about us and He does care!
Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares. His heart is touched with my grief! I don’t know why God allowed this storm to happen. But in the midst of it all, I’ve been shown He cares. Yes, the future still looks dark and uncertain. But thank you, God, for bringing a glimmer of hope through the loving labors of your faithful servants.
—By Phil Schrock, Rapid Response Team coordinator