The last month has been an overwhelming one for our community and state. Even though I haven't been directly impacted (other than the smoke from the Chattanooga wildfires), my heart has been heavy as hard things have continued to happen.
First were the local wildfires, then the week of Thanksgiving a terrible school bus accident left families without children, followed by this week's wildfire that brought destruction to Gatlinburg leaving people without homes, jobs and in some cases family, and finally tornadoes coming on the heels of the fires.
I have spent a lot of time in prayer recently. I have prayed on behalf of those who have endured hardships that I cannot even begin to fathom. I have questioned why all of this is happening, and continues to happen. And as I have prayed, I am drawn to things I am thankful for. Tragedies have occurred, and there is nothing that can take away from that, but there have been moments of goodness through it all, too. Neighbors helping neighbors.
People have opened up their homes to strangers, their properties and barns for animals. Food and items have been donated to help take the sting from the most terrible of events. Blood has been given as people have showed up in droves to support those who were injured. Prayer vigils have happened where neighbors and strangers alike have shared a shoulder to cry on and supported in the only way they know how. The response of our community allows me to continue to have faith in humanity. Even at the darkest of times.
This past Sunday our small group gathered for a Friendsgiving. I got out my china and we shared a meal that was seasoned with laughter. We didn't talk about the heartache that I know we are all feeling, but for me it was an evening that was needed amidst the heaviness of life.
I think I could write pages of all the things I am thankful for, but for now I am most thankful for our families, the friends that we get the privilege of experiencing life with, and this community that we live in – these people who step up and love each other, especially when life is hard.
"Give thanks in everything." 1 Thessalonians 5:18