FAITH MATTERS

In times of disaster, look for the helpers

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The utter devastation of certain parts of Texas can be easily surmised by the pictures that flood our news feeds, headlines and TV news reports.

In Sumter, we can certainly sympathize with those in the flooded area, having endured the 1,000-year flood in 2015, although the worst of our experience pales in comparison to the images of whole families wading through chest-deep waters or elderly people stranded in dirty waters in their nursing home.

What we are familiar with is that the rising waters of a flood mean a change in what we define as normal. Fortunately, the 1,000-year flood gave us many opportunities to be better neighbors and more ways to use our resources for the benefit of others. Good came out of it, but there is hardly any perspective of benefit at this stage, as flood waters continue to rise.

A flood often leaves a watermark or an indelible impression on buildings and walls that reminds us of how high the water rose and what we survived. It's not difficult to draw a deeper meaning from our circumstances. It's a unique opportunity for those of us who have endured a similar personal catastrophe to extend not only sympathy, but also help to those in the throes of their own crises.

Of course, we could take an alternative route. We can shake our fists at the sky in anger and resentment. We can wallow in self-pity and regularly take inventory of what we have lost. Or we can bear our emotional scars to someone in pain, showing them that there is hope.

It's difficult to come up with a reason as to why a merciful God would allow something to happen. There are lots of reasons that a well-meaning group of optimists might come up with, but I think there are reasons that defy mere optimism, reasons that call us, as believers, to be the hope of those affected by tragedies.

In an interview, Fred Rogers, the star of the popular Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, offered some a way to tease out hope amid scary world events.

"My mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world."

What better testimony of God's love that for His children to be the ones running to help those in need! I don't know what that means for you individually, but whatever God has laid on your heart as far as ways to help, I hope you run toward it whole-heartedly.

Email Jamie H. Wilson at faithmatterssumter@gmail.com.