By Rev. Roy Butler, Bethel, White Rock and Chaplain for the South Carolina Army National Guard

Who would have ever thought we would have experienced in our life time a thousand year storm, the thousand year storm. Nearly the perfect storm as that band of spinoff from Hurricane Joaquin dumped up to 22 and 23 inches in many areas across our state. I watched in uniform with the SC Army National Guard as lake and river levels rose and exceeded all design parameters. I watched as you watched dams fail, homes ruined and destroyed, lives forever changed, rivers reaching never before recorded levels. I stood on the center line of SC 41 in Williamsburg County just outside of Andrews with the Black River at my feet watching as a boat, a large boat conducting search and rescue operations crossed the road some hundred yards from my location. As I stood there I sensed the power of the storm, the sheer magnitude of what our families and friends here in South Carolina had just endured.

But the power of the storm paled in comparison to that of God–a power that manifested itself in the humility of those who offered themselves in service to others, in the courage of those first responders, in the outpouring of love and support we have all witnessed during and after the storm. I have seen firsthand the willingness of people to give of themselves and their resources through assisting with cleanup, donating much needed items, traveling great distances to walk with the flood victims. In my heart of hearts I feel an Easter theme–a resurrection theme as lives are being changed, as new normals are being established, and I am reminded that God always and forever promises the last word—a word of hope in the midst of despair, a word of encouragement in the midst of trials and suffering, a word of life in the face of death. You my brothers and sisters are that word. You are that word as recovery and restoration in earnest, and yes, the work of resurrection as you continue to reach out with the love of Christ in your service. Thanks be to God for all of you, and to God be absolute and eternal glory.

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