What do you do when life is reduced to rubble? When you have 16 minutes to take cover and hold on? Hold on to what? What do you hold onto when whirlwinds come through, more powerful than you, and rip everything apart, flattening everything you’ve ever worked for and taking what you most love? Where do you go then when you come up and out and look around and find all lost?
I’ve lived in a tornado zone my whole life and I’ve taken cover many times, hunkered down in southwest corners of basements with flashlight and blankets and water ready. I’ve heard the train-rumbling winds and I’ve seen giant trees toppled like toothpicks. I’ve felt the terror and helplessness, waiting for nature to be done—to come up and into the light—to move on. But I’ve never experienced a tornado like what I watched on video this week.
Have storms of such power ever come roaring through life, threatening to take all you know, all you’ve built your life upon? Has twisted darkness ever torn you apart or stolen one you love? Has twistedness ever stolen you? Do outer twisters teach us something about what can take place in inner parts, if we don’t heed warnings?
I watched a video of survivors looking through rubble of what was once their home, moments before. What struck me most was one man looking for hope. He wasn’t looking for possessions. He was looking for hope. And he found a flag—an American flag—and planted it upright in the center of his rubble.
Hope. Isn’t it hope we most long for when life’s devastation makes unwanted, unexpected visits? Where do we turn for hope when all seems lost—when all IS lost? What is our own personal symbol of hope?
For me, there is a symbol of hope that held a twisted and torn God-man long ago, until He didn’t need to be held any longer. The fury of darkness tore Him apart and pierced Him straight through and onto the wood. And He hung. He hung on the wood until all that twists and tears and steals and terrorizes us was overcome. He overcame destruction and death. He said it was finished. But to the by-standers? What was finished? The One in whom they had hoped was dead. Their hope was blown away by winds no human could stop.
I often put myself in the sandals of those standing at the foot of the cross that day. What would I be feeling? What would I be thinking as I watched God die right in front of me? Where would I place my hope then when I had placed it all on Him?
Sometimes we have to wait. Sometimes we don’t see resurrections right away. Sometimes we must wait until we can look inside to find twistedness transformed—to find life spring forth from darkness.
And when it doesn’t? When the search and rescue mission turns up horrific loss and pain unspeakable? When life doesn’t go as we hoped? What then? Where do we go then? What do we do then?
There is a God. I know Him. And He isn’t a vapor. He isn’t a concept. He isn’t an ideal. He is a living, breathing, feeling person who created every living, breathing, feeling person. And He feels our pain. He felt every single bit of brokenness of every single one of us when he dragged his death-wood on his whip-torn back. He saw all who had suffered—all who would suffer. He saw what sin had already done from the beginning. He saw what creation, broken by sin, would do on a Monday in May. And He decided to do something about it—way back then. He decided to make it right. He decided to fix it. So He stretched out all he was—all he had, which was everything. And he let twisted souls pound him straight through with fury and hold him to the wood he created. As he hung on the cross, he thought of me and you and every single soul He created. His heart bled out for us that day. He was bound. He was bound and determined to reverse the curse. And He did.
Jesus said, “It is finished!” and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)
After a while, the darkened sky grew light once again. People went home. Jesus was taken down dead and placed inside a tomb carved out of rock. And the stone came rolling, closing him in. And people wept—hope lost. What did he finish? To the people, it looked like HE was finished—their HOPE was finished!
Just when all hope seems lost, there comes a third day. There comes a day when stones are rolled away and we peer deep inside death-holes. And we realize that hope didn’t have to die with flesh because flesh rose again. And the flesh that rose again still lives. He still lives and sees and knows and feels our deepest sorrows. And He still calls out from the rubble of our lives . . .
Seek and you will find! (Matthew 7:7)So she searched. I watched her search through the rubble of her life—her home completely flattened. As video camera zoomed in, I heard her cry and I saw a little, dust-covered gray dog come climbing out of his would-be tomb. He came out and into her arms and she pulled him close to her heart. All was lost except her beloved dog. And he was enough for her, that day.
Does rubble always hold hope?
What if a twister comes roaring through my life this season? What if I lose everything? Will I have lost everything? Is there hope to be found in the rubble? Is there perhaps something even more beautiful to be found inside? Maybe I might have to wait for an opening. And then, with eyes waiting to see and a heart ready to receive—I might find joy unspeakable?
Yes. My answer is yes. Because I know the One who was twisted and torn. I know the one who is more powerful than death. I know the One who bled out and gave all for the hurting. And I know the One who started the reverse of this curse. And He is coming again. And when He does, there will be no more tears—no more death—no more pain. Heaven on earth is coming. Will we wait in hope for what we do not yet see? And will we hold with our hands and our hearts those who mourn now?
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4