When Grief Does Turn Good – Reflection on Tragedy

I cross the street and I’m stepping on the set of a movie as this cannot be real! This has to be a scene being filmed for a new action adventure staring Bruce Willis, not my hometown of Joplin, MO. My mind is numb. My thoughts are processing in slow motion. This is is wild as my brain usually can go in many directions at a time and I work hard to slow my focus to what is most important at that moment. The central thought is, “They are dead.”

This was my life three years ago today at approximately 6:30pm (written on May 22, 2014). I lived in Carl Junction, MO. My parents and niece lived in Joplin, MO where a F5 tornado ripped through the town. Our satellite was out so we had no clue how bad the damage was from the tornado. My wife was receiving text from our youngest daughter about the damage. First, St John’s was destroyed. No way! This upset me greatly as it was my first real job, where my wife and I met, and I knew many people were there as patients and employees – what happened to the people? Next, Home Depot was gone. This cannot be true. My heart is starting to race. How bad was this storm? Then, the text came that Walmart at 15th & Range Line was gone. “That’s only a few blocks from Mom and Dad’s house! We have to go and check on them.”

We park at the Joplin School District Administration building and walk to their house. I’m in shock. At this moment, as I reflect, I can feel my mind and body go numb again. So much has transpired in three years. My dad perished from the tornado, and then my oldest sister died two mornings later from a stress induced heart attack. God is good.

The devastation was huge financially and priceless emotionally. This city is still scarred from the damage and yet healing has happened as businesses and neighborhoods are being rebuilt. This means lives are being rebuilt. God is good.

The community rallied together and we received an outpouring of assistance from those not affected, including people from all around the United States. I’m sure there were probably people from other countries who helped too. People affected helped others as they could too. God is good.
Personally, I went forward starting a new job where I was given so much assistance from new coworkers, who are now like family, processing the loss by grieving, attending the joint memorial service for my dad and sister, and trying to help my mom and the rest of my family recover. Many people were at my side which was very comforting. God is good.

Something was wrong though. Each week would pass and I would reflect upon it thinking it was horrible and next week will get better…but it didn’t. A good friend gave me the card of a Christian counselor. I put it on my desk and told myself I would call and make an appointment if the next week wasn’t any better. This went on for a month. On a Thursday, I started to leave my desk for some reason and, boom, it hit me again. I dropped to my chair and fought with every once of my strength not to break down. When I lifted my head from praying, I saw the counselor’s card and picked up the phone and called. God is good.

It has been three years ago and I’m am not the same man any longer. God is real. Yes, He is more real than anyone or anything else in this life. He is the unseen real. He has healed me of so much with more yet to happen as He is generous and there will always be more healing needed. What has happened is monumental though and, is a miracle! God is good.

I live with an excitement for each day and know what is to come is good. How can I do this? Because…God is good.

If you were hurt in any way from the Joplin tornado (really any tragedy) and are not thriving and better now than before, please get help. See a counselor, talk to your minister, let me know and I will help you however I can. God is real. He wants to help you. If you are hurting from anything and need help, He is real and wants to help you. If you want help from me, let me know and I’ll do anything I can to assist you so you too will know…God is real, He loves you, Jesus’ transformation for you will give you new life – one you cannot begin to dream how good it will be.

Anything that can happen in life to help you start to understand, or grow your understanding that…God is good, is good. This is when grief turns good. It takes time. This is true. If I’ve said once I have said a thousand times, “You get better or you get bitter.” I’m getting better. And I so thankful I’m not allowing the other to happen.

I pray you are learning this too in your journey with Jesus.

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