Smoke plumes billowed into a summer blue sky last Tuesday afternoon. I had just stepped outside to put some chicken on the grill. The wind kept blowing out the flame. When I turned around and saw the thick gray smoke pouring upward, my stomach dropped and my hands began to shake. This was close. Very close. It turns out, the Black Forest fire (a few images here) began less than ten miles northeast our house, as the ash flies.
Fear of the unknowns about this blaze stirred up anxiety. It could blow our way, it could move away. Shifting winds could steer this monster of a fire in any direction. I watched the early reports about damage, the videos of the blaze already circulating on the media, trying to make sense of it . Seeking to find peace amid the fear, amid the grief for the families I knew were losing homes. And, as you probably know, there were hundreds.
Fear is a distracting place to operate from. I wasn’t even one of the thousands evacuated, yet I was caught by the unknowns, by the praying for friends and strangers awaiting word on whether or not their homes still stood.
The devastation this fire wrought is the worst in Colorado history. People lost more than “stuff,” than their homes. They lost memories, sentimental belongings, and their place of security. Some truly lost everything as a result of this fire.
Wildfires aren’t the only events in life that strip us of these most treasured things. Serious illness, the loss of a loved one, unexpected circumstances also burn away all we thought we knew. It’s easy to operate from a place of fear when something happens in our lives to change everything that is familiar.
I don’t have the answers for why these things happen. I don’t pretend to understand why God allows them into our lives. What I do know is that, in the midst of the most devastating life events, He is there with us. He offers us hope, hope that can douse the flames of despair, of disappointment, of loss.
I’m learning fear and hope cannot dwell in my heart at the same time (see this great post by Dave Hamlin about fear and trusting God). When I toss fear out and make room for hope, my entire outlook on a difficult situation improves. When I put my eyes on Jesus, I can walk through difficult seasons with peace and grace. Sometimes, one heart-wrenching step at a time, but I get through to the other side.
What about you? How have you worked through wild fires in your life? What gets you through them?