Michelle looked up from her calculus homework. CNN was reiterating details of the devastation from another hurricane.
“I don’t think I could believe in God if I was one of those people over there,” she announced.
“Wait. Let me show you something.” Her mother, Elaine, strode into the den and returned with the family’s heirloom Bible. She removed a fragile piece of ivory stationery from inside.
“This letter was written by my great grandmother. Read it. You may change your mind,” Elaine said.
Michelle unfolded the well-worn sheet of paper.
May 10, 1906
My daughter, I am writing you this letter so you will know what has transpired recently. Thankfully you are too young to recall the horror of the eighteenth of April. We were living in San Francisco. Your father was away on business. I was awakened early by what sounded like a locomotive running at full speed outside the window. The building was shaking violently. I heard dishes crashing in the kitchen and saw books falling to the floor. I snatched you up and dashed outside. When the shaking stopped, all I could see was a cloud of dust from the fallen bricks.
Hastily, I returned inside. The building creaked and I was fearful it would collapse. I tucked you carefully into your carriage and then packed my Bible, some food and a blanket into a suitcase.
We made our way to the park. With each step, there was destruction and confusion. People screaming and crying. Others pushing their possessions in overflowing wheelbarrows. Some were even foolishly transporting sewing machines and ironing boards. I prayed from the Psalms “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
In the park, I managed to locate our neighbors, the Petersons, who were hanging sheets over a tree for shelter. We huddled together and watched fire consume the city. We heard explosions as dynamite was being used on buildings to slow the fire down. Everyone was frightened and unable to sleep. You cried and I rocked you in my arms. Mrs. Peterson recited from the One Hundred Twenty-First Psalm and it brought some comfort. “The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.” Our prayers protected us from the flames.
Some people around us questioned how God could allow the city to be destroyed. They said it was punishment for the wickedness in the city. One gentleman kept screaming, “God’s wrath is upon us!”
The next morning, Reverend Dalton read from the prophet Isaiah, “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.”
Despite the devastation, people shared food and comforted the wounded and grieving. We stood patiently in the bread and water lines and applauded when the mail wagon arrived. One gentleman played his banjo to amuse everyone. There were good, kind people helping others. God was merciful to us.
Amelia, the Lord carried us through that dreadful time. He protected us and provided for our needs. He brought us safely here to Sacramento. Carry this knowledge of Our Heavenly Father throughout your life. The Lord did not abandon us. Never abandon your faith in Him.
All my love,
Your Mother, Elizabeth
Michelle folded the letter and slipped it back into the Bible.
“Wow. I guess I never realized how people have to believe in God when He puts us through so much pain and heartache. If He was there back then, He will always be there helping me through the tough times.”
Elaine replied, “Sweetheart, keep this letter and one day pass it along to your daughter as a reminder that God is always faithful to His children.”
“We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.” (Psalm 78:4 NIV)
Verses cited above: Psalm 23:4, KJV; Psalm 121:5-7, KJV; Isaiah 54:10, KJV
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