If you’ve been following the news of the devastating tornado that struck Moore, Okla., Monday, you may have stumbled across a short video online that is quickly going viral. In this video, a survivor – whose home has been completely destroyed – is reunited with her pet dog, while giving an interview to the media.
The woman explains that when the tornado hit, she held her dog and hid in her tiny bathroom. After the tornado passed, she rose up from the rubble and called for her pet. When the dog failed to come to her, she knew it was trapped somewhere nearby.
Then, on camera, the dog is spotted – alive – trapped beneath some metal scraps. The woman rescues her dog, and the first words out of her mouth are, “Thank you, God.” She pets the dog a moment, and then continues, through her tears, “Well, I thought God just answered one prayer to let me be OK, but He answered both of them. Because this [dog] was my second prayer.”
In the aftermath of disasters and tragedies, it’s natural to highlight such stories of goodness, which stand out in relief to the pictures of destruction. Probably everyone yearns to know that in the midst of evil, there is always hope. Such stories help people truly honor the lives lost – not by falling into a pit of despair and grief, but by recognizing that the gift of grace is freely given to each one of us. God’s love and mercy transcend evil and comfort all who mourn.
What’s remarkable about the woman’s story is her gratitude. She has every reason to be ungrateful – indeed, to be angry, and utterly confused. Perhaps others in her situation might dwell on the sobering scene of destruction that surrounded them. So much is gone – her home, her town, and many lives. But in spite of it all, she finds reason to praise God, good.
The woman’s willingness to pray – before, during, and after the event – shows an intuitive awareness that God is bigger, better, and more powerful than the worst storm. God bestows no evil on His creation, but instead is always able to restore a sense of love, joy, and home amid the rubble.
The Bible reminds us, as God reminded Elijah, that “the Lord was not in the wind” or the earthquake or the fire – or any disaster. Instead, after all those things came to pass, Elijah heard “a still small voice” (I Kings 19:11, 12). That still small voice of God’s tender care is with everyone affected by the disaster in Oklahoma, whispering to the hearts a promise of grace, redemption, and renewal. This is a promise that anyone can trust, no matter what he or she may have endured. The dear woman finding her dog is just one example of the kind of grace that God gives to everyone.
Instead of despairing over destructive weather and the heartbreaking loss, you and I can see a different story in Oklahoma, one that can contribute to an atmosphere of gentleness and peace for those struggling. We can see the goodness inherent in humanity. We can bear witness to the grace that is always with us.