In the middle of all the chaos left by Hurricane Michael, Bayside Church in Panama City held Sunday worship in the parking lot of what used to be their church.
“For where two or three gather in my name, I am with them.” (Matthew 18:20). I have felt the presence of God countless times since Hurricane Michael swept through my home in the Florida Panhandle on October 10, 2018.
I’ve seen it in the faces of survivors, in the volunteers coming by the hundreds to assist us to recover and rebuild, and especially in the hopeful eyes of children as they continue to smile and bring joy to our lives. God is with us, as He has always been.
This Sunday morning, John and I attended worship, coming together with our church family, strangers, and those who simply needed a reminder that God is still God and the author of our lives.
We sang songs of worship, shared stories of inspiration and survival, and gathered supplies to distribute to families in the areas surrounding the community where our church once stood.
It was an affirmation of life and faith that drew us closer to each other. A beautiful reminder of the healing power of God even in the middle of the chaos. Though our home has changed, though we have been altered by this tragedy, God has not changed. His faithfulness and goodness are as constant as the sun that rose this Sunday morning and the one that will rise anew tomorrow.
The things of this world matter little in the moment. God has and continues to strengthen and bless us with all we need to move forward.
Trusting in His mercy and love is the most important thing we can do in the midst of this struggle. He will not forsake or abandon us, for He has promised, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4).
Breathing in the beauty of the moment, I felt peace. I hugged my daughters, held John’s hand and treasured each moment. Yes, our lives have changed significantly. Each day brings new challenges, but also renewed strength and gratitude for the joy and hope we encounter along the way. God is present in each and His goodness knows no end.
May He continue to strengthen and sustain us as we move forward minute by minute, day by day.
©️ Jennifer Nelson Fenwick