Barry walked out of the worship area to put a stop to whomever was trying to call him. With just one hour left at the youth convention, we wanted the pre-teens to enjoy every last minute.
I kept looking back to see if everything was okay. When he finally returned, he whispered to me, “we have to go home – our house is on fire!”
As our group quietly left the area, we stopped to pray, and then piled into the van for the long ride home. The kids announced that they were willing to sacrifice dinner in order for us to get home faster. We told them thanks, but it wasn’t necessary. They were still our first priority that weekend.
During the seven hour trip home, we spent time praying, praising, and writing a list of everything we knew was stored in the garage, for we had been told that’s where the fire started. We praised God for Barry’s daughter Heather, who was in the house and thankfully, was able to escape.
This Is No Blessing — It’s Punishment!
The last thing I wanted to hear were the words, “This (house fire) is a blessing in disguise.” Not only did Barry and I lose all of our clothes and our personal contents, but everything that was connected to his home-based business: a new truck, tools, and contracts. Much of what we lost was priceless. No, we could not see the blessing in this tragedy.
When the inspector told us that the fire was bound to happen anyway due to faulty wiring, we wondered if God was punishing us. We just didn’t understand why He would do that. We felt like things were going good in our families, even after each of us losing a parent to cancer the year before. Why couldn’t we just have good things come our way?
One night I told Barry that it wasn’t fair that our house was the one to burn. Why couldn’t it have been one of the dilapidated houses in town? He reminded me that God knows how strong our faith is, and that we could handle a house fire, whereas someone else might not. I never thought about it like that.
So we were the “lucky ones” to have our house burn down? Wow, that was a new concept for me. As we continued to look beyond the house fire, we started to see how we could be a blessing to others. Having the experience helped us know what to say or do for others going through a similar tragedy. Not only did we share our story, but we were able to gift them with groceries, clothing, and furniture. We could do this, because we were blessed the same way by others.
I Can’t Imagine Anything Better Than What I Have.
Another phrase which we didn’t like hearing was “There’s always something better waiting ahead for you.” It was hard to see past the charred wood, torn out insulation, or the fact that part of our roof was gone. We were knee deep in ashes looking for last coins or other treasures. Every night we showered off the smoke smells that had become embedded in our clothes and hair. Plus, we lived in three different places while waiting for the new house to be built. We were constantly adjusting to something new.
What was the better that was coming? I couldn’t even imagine what it was, and would I see it in my time or in God’s time?
And then a little bird flew into the rafters with a piece of straw in it’s beak. He had built a nest in our now open-air attic. Outside by the what was left of the garage were piles of glass and charred siding laying on the ground. Moving them aside, I noticed the birth of a daffodil, just popping out of the ground among the ashes. These tiny God-sightings were miracles and blessings, as written in Isaiah 61:3 Out of the ashes came something beautiful.
Barry’s first wife Malinda had died years earlier from cancer. Her hope chest was filled with dolls, books, and pictures to share with her family and friends. We didn’t expect to see in very good shape after the fire. Barry found it – not only in one piece, but encased with some clothes that protected it from the fire, smoke and water. It was another blessing we found in this tragedy.
Why Would God Let This Happen To Me?
Even though we started recognizing the blessings, we still questioned why it happened to us? We were doing everything we thought God wanted from us – going to church, praying, tithing, teaching, and helping with activities. Didn’t all these things count towards positive outcomes? What were we missing? Was there still something God wanted to teach us through the tragedy? It got to the point when we were almost afraid to pray, not knowing what was coming next?
In Joyce Meyer’s book, Love Out Loud, she writes how God’s love gives us the confidence to face the challenges (tragedies) that come our way. She starts with these words:
To be bold actually means to be courageous in the presence of fear. To be confident does not mean we never feel fear; it simple means that no matter how we feel, we magnify God above all else and step out in faith to do whatever He asks us to do.
So no matter what happens to us, it’s not based on what we’re doing for God. Bad things can happen to everyone, even those who don’t know God. It seems like things should go better when we have a good relationship with God. But as it is, that doesn’t matter. We just need to be willing to do whatever it takes to maintain that love.
I believe that God allows things to happen to us, so that He can use how we react to them to help others on their own journey. Instead of being afraid of what may come our way, we need to continue to rely on Him despite what happens. Although we are asked to be joyful in all things, we should also look for the blessings – because they can help others along the way.
The Blessing In My Tragedy…
There were small blessings discovered along the way, but one major blessing was just for me. The house that burned down belonged to Barry, his first wife and their three girls. The home was decorated with her personality, style, and colors. I didn’t want to upset the girls by changing things after we were married. Their momma had lived and died in that house, and so it held a special place in each of them. But for me, it never felt like my home.
Then Barry built a brand new house, with a basement, on the same lot. He asked me to choose the colors and help decorate it. This blessing in the midst of the tragedy became my home.
Why not purchase Love Out Loud and join me in this study… and resolve to look for the blessings?
Write out all the blessings you have discovered in the midst of a tragedy. Share some of the more meaningful ones with us in the comments below. We’d love to connect with you.
My daughter Sarah put together a video for one of her college classes – which showed before and after the house fire, to the tune of Yancy’s song: My Savior, My God, from her CD Rock-N-Happy Heart. Sarah includes some of my journal entries in it, along with her own.