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Monday, February 21, 2011

From the Ashes

Luke 17:12-19, Ten Healed of Leprosy
As [Jesus] was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked,  Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
(The front porch of my aunt and uncle's house;
picture taken in 2008 at our annual 4th of July party)

I took a Greek Mythology course in college, and of all the things we studied, I don't remember ever hearing the story of the phoenix and its ability to "rise from the ashes" into new life. But somewhere along the way, perhaps in the thousands of movies and TV shows I have ingested over the years, I heard this ancient myth and have come to appreciate its symbolism for those situations in life where a tragedy transforms into a resurgence.

Back on January 31, my aunt and uncle had a house fire. I've been wanting to give you an update, but I wanted to wait until we knew exactly how bad it was. As it turns out, the interior of the house will have to be gutted. The fire began in the basement and reached all the bedrooms, the kitchen, the living room—basically every room in the house. Fortunately, most of their pictures, keepsakes, etc. were not burned and only suffered smoke damage. The paintings especially they are hoping to clean and restore to their pre-fire condition. The couches, kitchen cabinets, floors, and other non-wooden furniture, however, will have to be completely replaced. All told, it's expected to take until September to make the necessary repairs. In other words, my aunt and uncle will be out of their home for the next seven months.

But, in the midst of all this, God answered our prayers.

The day of the fire—the first hour we heard the news, in fact—my grandma began praying that the Lord would bring something good out of this. That it would be a blessing in disguise. That God would prove that there was indeed a reason for allowing this awful thing to happen. Our family took up my grandma's request and asked God many times over the past few weeks that He would do all these things and, literally, bring something new out of the ashes.

We have now learned that my aunt and uncle's insurance company has not only agreed to pay for ALL the necessary structural repairs, furniture replacement, and personal property loss, but they also decided to pay for the seven months' rent at a temporary apartment! Plus, because of the fire damage, they will be installing a brand new furnace. The old one was on its last legs. In fact, before the fire, my uncle had been worried about how they would pay for a new one when it finally went out.

It is my opinion that we don't hear enough of these stories of answered prayer, perhaps because we are not as quick to share them as we should be. It's easy to ask for prayer when someone is sick or there's an emergency or a tragedy or some urgent, dire need. But somehow, it's harder to offer up prayers of thanksgiving when those original requests are answered with health, healing, and resolution. Perhaps we get too busy. Perhaps we forget. Perhaps we figure God already knows we are grateful—we don't really need to say it.

If God has answered a prayer for you, either recently or anytime in your life, take the time to thank Him... and to share your joy with others. Some things ought to be kept secret. But an answered prayer is not one of them.

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