Even the reporters are choked up. What the monster tornado tore up in Moore, Oklahoma is tearing at our hearts.
Houses gone. Neighborhoods gone. Schools gone. Children. Gone.
People wandering the streets "like zombies," trying to figure out where their house was. Parents waiting in the mud, looking for some shred of hope that their child is somehow alive beneath the rubble of their school. Children in shelters, wondering if they'll ever see their parents again.
The photos, the stories, the video images - they defy words. Some of them have struck a pretty deep chord in my heart.
Like the team from Joplin, Missouri, hurrying to help people in a way only they can. Two years ago, it was part of their town that vanished in the deadliest twister ever. They know how having your world erased in a moment feels.
It's strange. The worst things that happen to us become the compassion and comfort we have to treat other wounded people. Those who've been hurt become heroes of healing for others who are bleeding. As the Bible says, "We can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God" (2 Corinthians 1:4 ).
Somehow our pain has meaning when we can use it to rebuild someone else's life. I call it crud-entials. How the crud of your life qualifies you to help a hurting world.
I was touched, too, by the directive given by the rescuers at the leveled Plaza Towers Elementary School. Knowing there were children in that rubble, the first responders asked everyone to be quiet. "So we can listen for voices."
That's what I want to be better at. Stopping the chatter so I can listen for the voices of people in trouble. They're all around us. If we have ears to hear their cries. They've been buried by one of life's violent storms. It's easy to miss them if we're running so fast we run right by them.
God, help me listen for their voices.
Now the stories of the hero teachers are surfacing on every newscast. Like the teacher at Briarwood Elementary who knew what the approaching tornado could do to these children she loved. So she told them, "We're going to line up our desks, get under them and play 'Worms.'"
And they sang real loud - a little song I sang as a kid. "Jesus loves me, this I know." Good to know when your world is falling down around you. The roof of the school was on top of their desks. And they were OK.
Then there were the teachers who threw their bodies over their students' bodies. Abandoning themselves, risking their lives to save their children. For me, that's the Man whose sacrifice has changed my life. "Jesus loves me, this I know."
I'm still thinking about the woman who got her kids from the soon-to-be demolished school just in time. And reached her home just in time to get everyone into their recently-built safe room. It's all that was left when the storm passed by.
I loved what she said about rebuilding her house. "I'll build it around the safe room." Good idea. For a life, not just a house.
There are so many sudden storms...so many life-changers that are beyond our control. We need a safe room. Where the storm that takes so much away cannot take you. An unshakeable eternity. An unloseable love.
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19 ). That's what the Bible says about Jesus. He's my one Safe Place. Storms have taken their toll. But I'm OK. Because He's never let me go.