And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability…. But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
–2 Corinthians 8:1-3, 7 NIV (emphasis added)
I didn’t want to answer the phone. As I lay in bed, I just wanted to bury my head in my pillow and wish the day before had never happened.
On Monday, August 10, our city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was hit by a derecho–a widespread, long-lived, straight-line windstorm. We later learned that we had lived through sustained, straight-line winds that averaged well over 100 mph (with gusts up to 140 mph) for almost an hour. Think of a category 3 hurricane but in the Midwest! It came with virtually no warning and the devastation was mind-numbing.
We were huddled in our basement during the storm praying for safety when we felt as much as heard a thud. Looking up our basement stairs and through a window facing our driveway, all I could see were branches and leaves rather than the sky and my neighbor’s house. Not a good sign. After the storm, we discovered our 50+ year-old large ash tree had fallen on our detached garage. The power was out for nearly our entire county. Roads were blocked with fallen trees and powerlines and other debris. Virtually everything in our city–whether it be grocery stores, hardware stores, or gas stations—was all shut down.
As I answered the phone, I heard a friend ask, “Do you need a generator?” My first thought was actually panic. Our cars, though miraculously undamaged, were trapped in our garage. How would we get gas? Even though he was coming from over 3 hours away, he assured me it would be fine. He would bring some gas with the generator.
It was then, in one of my darkest moments, that I felt my first spark of hope in the midst of unthinkable devastation. My friend’s act of generosity ignited hope in my weary soul when I needed it most.
ACTION: When did someone show generosity to you and what did it evoke in you? Who is someone you know, whether local or global, who is going through a dark time? What act of generosity can you do to ignite hope in their weary soul?