For many years now there has been a disturbing element to me whenever the elements bring various forms of destruction: tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, hurricanes, mudslides, earthquakes and most recently in our part of the world, ice storms. Sometimes, these things bring nuisance, aggravation and inconvenience. Often, they bring cataclysmic destruction, widespread devastation and tremendous loss and suffering. That alone is more than ample reason to be disturbed. But there is another aspect to it that is also disturbing.
Years ago, a hurricane destroyed thousands of homes and killed hundreds of people in Mexico. In a small church in northern Missouri two days later, I heard a church member testify about God’s grace. His winter home and garage in south Texas had been spared. “God spared my garage,” he declared, “because I had painted ‘Jesus Saves’ on the side of it.” He did not mention the hundreds of dead Mexicans, nor did any of the rest of us.
I was reminded of this incident Sunday as I drove the two-hundred-and-fifty miles back to Arkansas City from Blair. There was a light rain all the way with occasional spats of sleet. Except for the roadway itself, everything was already coated with ice: grass, bushes, fences, trees, rocks and whatever else that lay exposed. In all that way, on the interstate, main roads and side streets, I never encountered a bit of ice, so far as I know. I never had one bit of ice accumulation on my windshield. I owe that to one simple fact: the temperature stayed at thirty-three degrees for the entire trip.
Two degrees colder and it would have been a different story. It may have been that there was still enough salt on the main routes to keep ice from forming there, I cannot say. But I’m reasonably sure there would have been some spots that didn’t get quite enough salt. As most of us know, it only takes one patch of ice to turn a trip home into a trip to the hospital. And aside from the inconveniences of collisions and tow trucks, there would have been the continual fuss and frustration of ice on the windshield.
Two degrees of mercy, two-hundred-and-fifty miles of grace. I was and am grateful and I gave thanks continually on my way home and after arriving there. I am still giving thanks… but I am also mindful of others who lost their lives, others whose property was damaged or destroyed, others who survived their wrecks but will suffer the rest of their lives from the injuries incurred.
I do not believe that any of those others were loved less nor that I in the least deserved my blessing. I will be grateful but I will not judge. And when the times come to me in which the Lord sees fit to allow me to endure similar trials and troubles, will I, like Job, still bless the name of the Lord?
I hope so but will admit that I am not eager to find out.