After a fire like the one Californians just witnessed, many can be left asking, "Where is God?" But God left one powerful sign of His presence in a lone-standing wooden cross that managed to be left standing amidst the rubble.
Franklin Graham shared about the amazing sign on his Facebook page: "The wildfires in California may have destroyed about 95% of the town of Paradise, but people returning to the area found one symbol of hope that remained standing among the ashes—a wooden cross," wrote Graham.
"Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church Brandon Merrick, who lost his home and church building, said, 'this picture is not just a heartbreaking reminder of what can happen to the things and people of this world, this is our one true hope in the midst of tragedy that cannot be destroyed by anything. God is with us. God is holding you right now as you read this note and He wants nothing more than for you to see Him through the cross where He draws us to the only place His mercy and forgiveness are found. In this picture I understand how in the cross we see both the ultimate consequence of our sin in death and the new life we have with Jesus.'"
Merrick had to flee the church at 9 in the morning with a group of preschoolers as the fire began to spread. He said it looked like the middle of the night with the skies blackened by smoke.
Sharing the picture of the still-standing cross online with his congregation, Merrick wrote: “I hate this picture. However, I also love this picture...Fore me, this picture is not just a heartbreaking reminder of what can happen to the things and people of this world, this is our one true hope in the midst of tragedy that cannot be destroyed by anything. God is with us."
Though Merrick is devastated by the fire (his church is currently meeting at a sister church in Chico about 20 miles away), he sees the cross as a powerful message to the community. “I told our church I really hope that that picture can be used as the picture for the fire, because, as the church, everything that man builds with our hands is perishable, but what God does for us through the cross is imperishable and cannot be taken away or burned up,” Pastor Merrick told Fox News. “And that’s what I love about the picture.”
So many were touched by Graham's post on his Facebook page. It seems that in the midst of tragedy, people are looking for hope. And God left the people of Paradise with a powerful visual reminder.
What do you think of this cross left standing? Do you know anyone affected by the fires? Let's share our thoughts and prayers in the comments! Thank you!