By Karen Middleton
Writers of human interest columns often attempt to inject notes of humor into their messages to lighten the moment for readers.
In the wake of the April 27 tornadoes I thought humor would be hard to come by. I know I didn’t much feel like laughing.
Then I saw the humorous messages painted by tornado survivors on signs and remaining walls of demolished homes, such as “Home for sale, some reassembly required,” and “Home Makeover Tornado Version,” along with many others.
The black monsters that churned out of the skies two weeks ago today took homes, livelihoods, possessions and lives. But they could not destroy the human spirit of survivors.
Humor has often been the way people deal with extreme stress. It is the favored alternative to tears, but often precedes complete meltdowns. These people will need our loving care for many months and possibly years to come.
Two nights after the storm I went out in my Elkmont Rural Village home to pick up limbs, silently thanking God for sparing my home and neighborhood.
I saw a crumpled piece of paper on the ground. It was a half page out of a book of the Bible, Jeremiah 51 that dropped out of the malevolent sky.
I am far from a biblical scholar, but I found the topic at the top of the page intriguing: “God Will Destroy [Babylon]. I wanted to know what the missing portion of the page had to say, that if somehow it might carry a message to explain the massive storms that wreaked such destruction on North Alabama.
I went inside and opened a Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible and read on. I read in Jeremiah 51:15-16, at the spot where the retrieved page had been torn away:
“It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
“When he utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightnings for the rain, and he brings forth his wind from his storehouses.”
Next, I surfed the Internet for interpretations by biblical scholars. It seems that Babylonia, which was located in what is now modern day Iraq, had become a “center of sin” and idolatry and its demise is prophesied in several books of the Bible.
The writer of Jeremiah not only called upon nature but mighty armies to destroy this corrupt society that it might arise anew in the fear of God.
I see no apocalyptic message for North Alabama storm victims in this passage. The massive tornado outbreak tore through the heart of the Bible belt, taking with it not only lives, homes and livelihoods, but also churches – three in Limestone County.
I believe the residents of North Alabama are mostly God-fearing people. They do not blame God for tragedy, but fall to their knees to thank Him for sparing their lives.
In the face of unimaginable destruction, they believe in the words of Matthew 5:45: “… that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.”
No human is a match for an EF5 bearing down upon him or her. In the face of such cataclysmic destruction the only defense we have is our spirit, a spirit that survives the loss of everything to scrawl a humorous message to bring a smile to the lips of passersby.