This past Friday was a night no one living in Weakley County will ever forget. As the tornado barreled through Dresden, TN at 11:08pm that night, my children and I were huddled in our basement hearing the whirlwind pass by us. Thankfully, the house was not damaged, but peering out of the windows, we saw trees blown down or on top of homes, power lines and posts in the street, and first responders inspecting homes. The extent of the damage, however, did not become fully realized until the next day. The tornado tore a swath of ruin all throughout Dresden, destroying homes, businesses, and historic downtown churches. It was an emotional day for those who have grown up in Dresden. The community that was gearing up for Christmas festivities is now left wondering how to start the rebuild. Where do we go from here? What are the next steps?
While considering those questions, an emotion came over me throughout the weekend…a deep wellspring of gratitude. It has been simply awe-inspiring to see a community come together to help each other recover. People from other communities in Weakley County, residents from other counties, and volunteers from other states have poured in to lend a hand. First responders came immediately after the tornado while severe thunderstorm warnings were still active to help people in the midst of the rubble. Weakley County Municipal Electric Service employees and workers from the TVA and neighboring electric cooperatives have labored non-stop to bring power back to the affected area. Local and state governmental officials have been on the scene assessing the damage and bringing needed leadership to help our community move forward. It is a proud moment to be a Weakley County native and resident!
Where can we go to gain solace from God’s Scripture in times like this? To be honest, I feel quite inadequate to provide insight after such a devastating occurrence in the community I call home, for my house was spared, while homes and businesses just a hundred or more yards away are gone. It seems wrong, in a sense, to write as a spiritual leader to those who lost everything, while my property and possessions are intact. But my prayer is simply to use this article as an encouragement to a community I love. While we have lost much, God is still with us. It is nothing short of a miracle of God’s grace that no one in our county was killed in the tumult. The presence of the Lord is what we celebrate in Christmas. God sent His only Son to us, when we were despondent and laid low in death and sin. Jesus truly is Immanuel, God with us (Matt. 1:23) God is present with our community. He is here, and may that bring you comfort.
When calamity comes, when we are brought to our knees through difficult circumstances, I like to turn to Micah 7:8. When bad things happen to God’s people, Satan and the enemies of God mock our faith. They echo the words of Job’s wife, “Why don’t you just curse God and die.” (Job 2:9) But Micah’s words give us a better response. Speaking on behalf of the people of Israel, Micah says, “When I fall, yet will I arise.” God will bring us through the disaster; He will carry us to the other side of disaster. Micah continues, “He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness” (v. 9) We are in the midst of a dark time, but God’s light will shine on us! We will rise from the rubble. We will carry forth into the light of God’s future. Remember the Lord’s encouraging words to the exiles in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Micah in his ministry as a prophet of Israel spoke of the impending judgment upon God’s people. God was to send destruction upon the land. But even in that circumstance, God prepared for the future hope of renewal, reestablishment in the land, and rebuilding the city of God. When Nehemiah visited Jerusalem, the city walls were desolated and the city was in a precarious state. The once proud capital city of Israel was laid low to the point that it depended upon duplicitous foreigners to provide protection for the inhabitants. Those foreigners questioned Nehemiah, “What is this thing that you are doing?” Nehemiah answered them, “The God of heaven HIMSELF will prosper us; therefore, we His servants will ARISE and BUILD.” (Nehemiah 2:20)Yes, we are laid low at this moment. Yes, we may not fully know the next steps. But I am convinced that our community will band together like we have never before seen. God is for us and not against us. Even though we have fallen, yet shall we arise! We shall arise and build!
-This article was published in the Weakley County Press on December 14th, 2021
-Photo courtesy of unsplash.com