Lamentations for Joplin and others

Brian Hammons



That’s a word used many times to describe the destruction left behind by the tornado that hit Joplin. It also describes other places that have experienced recent tornados and floods. Does “devastation” also describe the spiritual and emotional impact upon people in those areas?

I understand. Having been through the devastation of a tornado nearly wiping out my hometown of Stockton in 2003, I remember what our brothers and sisters in those areas are going through. The shock of seeing homes, parks, businesses, churches, and lives simply taken in a few minutes. The emotional trauma and sense of loss. The exhaustion from such a huge clean-up job. The challenge of even thinking about recovering, building back. And the need to support one another, providing mutual encouragement to face the near-impossible tasks. All these come flooding into my mind as I see the pictures and recall my own experience.

Then I recall a sermon I was inspired to give a few weeks later. Jeremiah’s Lamentations 1:1 says “How lonely sits the city that once was full of people.” He goes on to lament the terrible destruction, loss of life, and says “my soul is downcast within me.” (Lam. 3:20). This book, written maybe 2,500 years ago, captures the devastation of spirit that can happen.

But all of a sudden, 3:21-23 lifts me up: “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

God still cares, God still loves. God is faithful. We are not consumed, simply set back. God’s compassions are fresh with each new day.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those devastated physically and spiritually by the tornado in Joplin. And those in other places hurt by tornados and floods. But we also reach out with donations of relief supplies, work to help clean up, money, and – most important – a message of God’s hope. It will be a long, challenging recovery. But our faithful God is there. And God calls us, as followers of Jesus Christ, to be there too – in prayers, donations, clean-up teams, and Christian support.

I hope that Jeremiah’s message helps those folks now, just as it did me in 2003 and the people of Jerusalem over 2,500 years ago.

God IS Good – ALL the time!