A Letter to My Fellow Alabamans

April 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

As I have looked at videos and pictures of the utter destruction in my home state of Alabama, it is difficult not to pack my bags and go help in some way.  I know so many things about the wonderful people from my great state, but I cannot fathom the utter devastation that the people are facing there. 

Unless you have lived through or witnessed the aftermath of a natural disaster of this size, it is hard to fully empathize.

Looking at the images of tornado-torn AL and the south, remind me of the devastation in Japan not so many days ago and the ongoing strife that exists there. 

What do you say to someone who has lost their home?

Where do homeless people run to?

I read on a Fox account that a woman viewing her damaged town wept and said, “I just can’t understand this. Are people coming to help us?” she said. “We feel all alone.”

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I Facebook messaged a friend from high school that survived the account with his family and expressed my gratitude to God that he and his family were among the survivors. 

Here is a portion of the message that I sent.

When Ron and I sat and watched it (the tornado) on YouTube that night, I could not believe what I saw. I could only think, “I don’t want to be on the other side of the wrath of our holy God.” Please, I am not saying that this was a judgement tornado, I can’t speak for God, but that was my first reaction. We never know what day we will take our last breath, but no one can take a breath from us that God intends for us to have.

After writing this message and looking at the images that friends were posting, I cringed when I reconsidered my words. 

What do you say at a time like this?

Probably something more along the lines of, what can I do to help, how are you feeling?  Sometimes I suffer from “think after I speak” syndrome.

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So, after all that I have seen and heard and read, here is my letter to those survivors, strugglers, and tornado ravaged souls in my southern state and those surrounding.

Dear Fellow Alabamans,

 As citizens of a state that prides itself on football, family, faith, fun, and food, it is devastating to witness what can happen in a matter of minutes to seemingly erase most, if not all, that you hold dear.

 Huddled together with family, friends, or perhaps total strangers in a gas station or shelter the worries of the morning and last night suddenly seem insignificant and all that really matters is your next breath. “Will I make it through this?  What is going to happen to me, my family, my home? ” 

 With hearts racing and ears filled with the rumbling of a danger we can neither create nor destroy, what is it that really matters? What is it that will outlive, override, and withstand the storm?

I lift up my eyes to the hills.  From where does my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.-Psalm 121:1-4

 For those who have lost loved ones, my sympathy and prayers go out to you and up to God. I do believe that we can take comfort in the fact that God does know the length of our days and that all our days were written in His book before one of them came to pass.  Your loved one was known by God and created in His image.  I pray that they knew Christ in this life and are now rejoicing before Him at present.  May God strengthen you and draw you to Himself.

 We in the south may have made football, fashion, fame, and fun our god either knowingly or unknowingly.  We may not have bowed down and fell prostrate before these things, but we have set our mind on them and strived for them. 

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Now the slate has been proverbially wiped clean.  Consider how pastor and author David Platt from The Church at Brookhills in Alabama described his sentiments after loosing his home in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:

Like others who lost everything in the flood, Heather and I experienced shock and disbelief. Then we felt confused. In the days that followed, we talked and we prayed and we wondered when “normal” was going to return.

But now we see it in a new light altogether.

For us, the flood depicts the radical call of Christ to Christians and the church. When Jesus calls us to abandon everything we have and everything we are, it’s almost as if he is daring us to put ourselves in the flood plain. To put all our lives and all our churches, all our property and all our possessions, all our plans and all our strategies, all our hopes and all our dreams in front of the levee and then to ask God to break it. To ask God to sweep away whatever he wants, to leave standing whatever he desires,and to remake our lives and churches according to his will.

David Platt, Radical Together, p. 11-12

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This time it wasn’t flood waters rising, it was storm winds raging.

My heart weeps for you Alabama.  My prayer is that the Christ followers of this state, and any other Christ followers who want to come, will rise up and be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Bring the gospel message of Christ to your brothers and sisters at a time when their emotions are raw and their thoughts are not on traditions and triumphs of sports and tv, but on the brevity and sacredness of life. 

One of the reasons we are not as Christ-centered and cross-saturated as we should be is that we have not realized that everything-everything good, and everything bad that God turns for the good of his redeemed children- was purchased by the death of Christ for us.  We simply take life and breath and health and friends and everything for granted. We think it is ours by right. But the fact is that it is not ours by right. We are doubly undeserving of it.

John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, p.57

 For every tired and weary worker that is serving their fellow citizens and sojourners at this time, be it through their vocation or their volunteer status, thank you. Thank you and God bless you for your efforts.  You are making a difference.

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For those looking for a hand to help you in this troubling time may your help come soon.  If you have not previously, may you now find your help in the One who has helped you  and brought you a peace that we did not deserve.

I love you all and am praying for your recovery both physically and spiritually.

God bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you and be well.


Raise the Risk Challenge:

  • If you do not have a relationship with the living God e-mail me at Brooke.Cooney.1@gmail.com.
  • Help the affected by going  here as The Church at Brookhills already has a link to ways you can pray, give, and go.
  • Take a family “vacation” to be the church and help in the cleanup and rebuilding process.

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