He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap… Psalm 113:7
She sits in the shade of the few trees remaining in her yard after the terrifying wildfire swept through her neighborhood devouring her home and more than 300 others. A large crew of people systematically gather pails full of ash, dump the blackened bits onto screening, and carefully search for anything that might be of value. We find a few rings, the metal twisted but the stones intact, dusty purple and topaz a mere hint of their former glory. We make small piles of items we think the homeowner might want to examine. (“Homeowner”—an unusual word in this context.) When she spies the rings or her grandfather’s pocket watch or family photos with only bits of blackened glass protecting their images, her tears fall easily.
While she is more grateful than we can imagine, we know that all the material objects she and her grandchildren once valued are gone. Her home office with its important papers, the wrapped coins the children were saving, the kitchen appliances now grey ash or twisted metal.
This woman needs to replace her house. She needs to constantly encourage the children that she loves them in the midst of loss. She needs legal assistance. She needs friendship. But most of all, she needs to know that the God of love is already working to lift her from the ash heap. That’s really why we all gathered on that burn site. We were just being the visible hands of God.