It’s easy to get consumed with our day to day life, but something happens to remind you that whatever you do, whatever your problems, whatever your concerns, there is a much bigger world out there with difficulties and concerns that far outweigh your wants and needs. Last Wednesday afternoon was one of those times as a horrific storm system roared through the state of Virginia like an out of control freight train spewing carnage and destruction everywhere.

When the storm struck, I was driving through Northern Virginia on the way to an appointment. I heard the news, felt the impact of the wind and driving rain but until the newscasts didn’t fully understand the devastation impacting three communities, Waverly, Tappahannock and Evergreen near Appomattox.

Bishop Cho, of the Virginia Conference wrote: “In Appomattox more than 50 structures were destroyed and more than 100 damaged. Evergreen United Methodist Church sustained significant damage to its roof, and one of Evergreen’s faithful members, Keith Harris, died in the tornado. His wife was seriously injured when her car was struck by a tree. In Waverly, two houses and a mobile home were completely destroyed, and three people, including a two-year-old child, were killed. In Tappahannock, at least 50 structures were damaged.”

Crystal Vandegrift of Crystal Image Photography Storm 1

(Photo by Crystal Vandegrift of Crystal Image Photography)

The Lynchburg News and Advance reported: Just a few feet away was where Sharanda Totty and her 1-year-old daughter hid in the basement of the Cape Cod-style home she rents from her father-in-law. Totty said her husband had called her shortly before the storm Wednesday to tell her to pay attention if she heard anything. “I live next to a railroad track,” Totty said. “Something told me to take it seriously.”

She grabbed her napping daughter and ran down to the basement, where they hid beneath a pale green mattress. Her daughter remained calm, falling asleep at one point, Totty said. Looking into what was once her basement, she wondered why the mattress didn’t move during the storm. “It all happened so fast. When it was over, it was so quiet,” Totty said. “I thought for sure everyone else was dead.”

I know we all lead busy lives but there are three communities in Virginia in crisis and they need our help. Bishop Cho wrote: “We grieve with those who grieve as they seek to rebuild their lives and homes in the wake of these storms. But even as we grieve, we are responding with the love and hope of Christ.”

The disaster experts have urged us to be patient and wait for damage reports. Far too many people are driving to the area just to see and take pictures. These damaged communities don’t need sightseers but they do need help. They will need supplies and they will eventually need resources and volunteer labor.

Over the next few weeks, there will be opportunities to become involved. You can volunteer, donate money or supplies. Most of all, they need our prayers and offers of comfort and support. The storms serve as a reminder of how much we need God and how little we think about God in our daily life. Attend your church this Sunday and offer to help. Most are collecting donations and organizing ways to get involved.

This week, I was once again reminded of the greater world around me and how we often miss the opportunities to help others that are all around us. God needs our Christian witness for both our day to day living as well as during times of crisis. I was also vividly reminded of my need for God.

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.
Oh, the joys of those who trust in the Lord, — Psalm 40:1-4

God will lift the communities of Waverly, Evergreen and Tappahannock out of the mud and mire caused by the recent storm. He will set their feet on solid ground and steady their walk. He will give them a new song to sing and many will see and put their trust in the Lord. God will do the same for you and for me.

Charles Tindley wrote a beautiful hymn: “When the storms of life are raging, stand by me. When the storms of life are raging, stand by me. When the world is tossing me, like a ship upon the sea, thou who rulest wind and water, stand by me.”

As you think about the almighty Christ who stands by you in the midst of any storm, consider your response through this poem written by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

Refuse to fall down. If you cannot refuse to fall down,
refuse to stay down. If you cannot refuse to stay down
lift your heart toward heaven
and like a hungry beggar, ask that it be filled,
and it will be filled.

You may be pushed down. You may be kept from rising.
But no one can keep you from lifting your heart
toward heaven — only you.

It is in the midst of misery that so much becomes clear.
The one who says nothing good came of this, is not yet listening…
refuse to fall down.

In the midst of the recent storms remember the God who will always be there to stand by you. God will help to strengthen your resolve, travel the unmarked road and in the midst of crisis, lift your heart toward heaven and refuse to let you fall down.