Why Did My House Burn Down The flames reached high into the sky with smoke sending ominous black clouds filled with ash into the atmosphere. The wind wailed and pushed the twisting fire onto the nearby trees. I couldn’t believe what was happening my house was engulfed in orangey red flames. I had just grabbed the last family picture and headed down the road in my car when I noticed that I was not the only one barely escaping the fire. My neighbor’s homes were on fire and they were fleeing too. The once peaceful neighborhood built in the middle of the beautiful forest was now scorched black and rapidly burning.
“God, why is this happening to my family and neighbors? I don’t understand. We attend church and tithe ten percent. Why did my house burn down? Please God help my family and friends!” As the words left my mouth I immediately prayed the Lord’s Prayer.
Matthew 6: 9-13: “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven: May your holy name be honored; may your Kingdom come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need. Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us. Do not bring us to hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One.’”
The fire raged for weeks. The once beautiful mountain valleys and peaks were burnt beyond recognition. The fire consumed thousands of acres of land. The smoke was so dense that it hung in the air and made it difficult to breath. I was forced to live in a motel to wait out the fire. When the fire stopped we would be allowed back on our property so the insurance adjustor could assess the damage and file the claim for payment. I had so many questions about what my family and I should do next. Should we rebuild our home or should we abandon the land and find a new house far away from the dense forest and mountain side?
Philippians 4: 5&6: “Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.”
I had so many questions that needed answered. But now all I could do was wait out the fire and trust that God would give me no more than I could handle. My heart soared with thankfulness to God as firemen came from all over the United States to fight the fire. Not long after that hundreds of volunteers arrived asking what they could do to help. They provided us with food and clothing. Their generosity was overwhelming, but very much needed. I thanked God for their gifts. I found myself thanking people for their kindness over and over again. I made new friends. I talked to my neighbors more than I ever had before. We were bound together because of the fire. Now we looked for each other when we met for updates on the fire. We hovered together and talked about what the future of our community might look like. None of us had answers, but it was wonderful to know that we were not alone. We were all going through this together. A new kind of community formed. We talked about our losses. We talked about our futures. We found common ground because of the fire. Until now I didn’t know how many people in my community were Christians. Now everything was different we were talking about our faith.
“God, this is really hard! Thank you for sending the firefighters to stop the fire. Thank you for the people who have come to help us and give us supplies. I have so many questions about what I am going to do next. I loved my home. Please help all of us to overcome the difficulties we are facing because of the tremendous test of my faith that this fire has caused.”
1 Corinthians 10:12&13: “Whoever thinks he is standing firm had better be careful that he does not fall. Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.”
The fire is out! Together my neighbors and I began the pilgrimage that will show us what has happen to our homes. My breathe catches in my throat as we approach our neighborhood. My home was less than five years old. One of the many selling points of our community was the posh golf course and the country club atmosphere that surrounded all of the beautiful homes. Each home was encased in beautiful trees and spaced far enough apart that every home felt like it had its own private peace of heaven. But now everything was different. I looked in disbelief. The club house was gutted by the fire. Just the cement foundation and the tall chimney stood scorched by the fire. The beautiful green grass of the golf course had paths of fire cut through the landscape. The trees and the vegetation were burnt and looked lifeless. Here and there were patches of grass and in the mist of all the damage stood a loan tree that was untouched by the fire. I looked in amazement as I continued to drive forward towards my home.
Tears flowed from my eyes as I surveyed the damage. My home was completely destroyed. It was not just my home but the whole community was damaged beyond repair. I got out of my car and walked around the landscape. I remembered the trees and bushes I planted. I looked at where my garden had been and there were only remains of my dead dry plants. It was a lot to take in. I felt my breath catch in my throat and my chest felt like a heavy weight was pressing down inside. All hope of rebuilding seemed lost. The neighborhood was completely destroyed.
“God, why did this happen? I feel hopeless and scared! I don’t understand why this fire destroyed everything I owned. What am I going to do now? How am I going to start all over again?”
Romans 8:26: “In the same way the Spirit also comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray; the Spirit himself pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express.”
Immediately I felt the Holy Spirit give me a hug. A peace surrounded me and a comfort that my Heavenly father heard my prayers made me feel better. My feelings of devastation now were less and a determination filled me with power. I would rebuild! I could replant my trees, my grass and my garden. I could build my house better than it was before. Together as a community we could rebuild and make it better than before. A joy filled my heart with love. I knew that Jesus Christ would be with me and my plans to rebuild were God’s Will!
The heavens opened and angels were quickly dispersed to send a message to every child who called out to God for help through prayer. God loved the people who lost everything in the fire. His Holy Spirit became like a warm blanket holding each person tightly to God’s chest. He filled them with a vision of a new community. He gave them hope. Most of all the love of God flowed through each of them giving them a determination to begin once again.
“Why did my house burn down?” I don’t know why I suffered this lose. But I do know that my faith grew because of the fire. I was never alone because God surrounded my life and gave me the strength to rebuild again.