Sunday, April 26 was the 29th Anniversary of the Andover tornado, and I’m guessing very few people in present-day Andover even took notice. At the time, it was all-consuming and overwhelming. One FEMA official told me it was the most complete destruction he had ever seen in such a large area. To me it looked like the trailer park had been put into an enormous blender, run for an extended time, and then scattered the contents back across the ground.
Immediately there was shock, confusion, and despair as the rescue efforts began. That first evening, we offered our rented space in the Andover shopping center to be used in any way needed. One of our classrooms became a temporary morgue. It was a sight I will never forget. Later, our worship space was used by the Catholic Church for a few meetings, and then it became the citywide Lost and Found. As volunteers sorted through the destruction, if there was anything of perceived value, they brought it to our space so the owners could be reunited with their belongings and memories: wedding rings, quilts, photographs, important documents, money, guns, etc… (I had even received a large envelope mailed from the Kansas City area saying the contents, including such things as cancelled checks from Andover, had started falling out of the sky the evening of the tornado!)
Recovery took time. I don’t remember how long it was before we moved back into our space for regular worship. And I’m not sure how many months it was before things began to settle down into some sense of normalcy. There was clean-up, rebuilding, and so many meetings for those trying to get back on their feet. It took time.
As time marches on, wounds are healed and things are replaced. Most people are very resilient and eventually are able to find a new, good rhythm. In fact, even after the hardest of times, it can get to the place where the day of the anniversary of the tragedy can pass and few will even take notice. This is a good thing, even though it is never good to forget how the Lord has brought us through, how He is ever-present, and how someday we will be with Him forever at Home.
Thankfully, as Followers of Jesus, we know how things end, which helps us to navigate and get through the present knowing the truth that we win in the end and forevermore. As Jesus taught us, each day will have trouble, but we should not be discouraged because He is bigger than the temporary problems and it all ends well with Him as our Savior.
Hopefully, for each of us, we can get to the place of spiritual maturity where we can agree with what the Apostle Paul taught in Philippians 1:20-22: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!”
Because of Jesus and our trust in Him, even during the trials of the present, may we anticipate the glory of the future and experience a deep joy and peace knowing it’s going to be alright!