by John E. Werhan
Nineteen members of an elite hotshot firefighter team lost their lives Sunday June 30th in the deadliest U.S. fire disaster in decades.
These firefighters had been specially trained to fight such wildland fires. Yet, for unknown reason/s they were over taken by flames racing through dry brush and grass. It is a terrible loss of young men whose average age was only twenty-two.
As a Christian, Gospel Preacher, Firefighter and Medic my heart weeps for the families who have lost their loved ones. When a firefighter gets hurt it is bad enough but to lose life it is devastating.
I would like to encourage everyone to keep these families in your daily prayers as they deal with these losses.
After being caught in a wildland crown fire and severally burned, I understand how difficult it is on families and firefighters to overcome such devastation. Yet, such can be overcome.
While in the Baptist Burn Unit in OKC, I held to my faith as I remembered the words written by James,
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:2-5).
For most, it is difficult to “consider it all joy” when one has been burned or for those who lost a loved one to a fire. But it is a reality of life that we all will “encounter various trials” as we walk the path of life especially when we serve in such professions as the fire service.
The key for me and my family was to use such tests to strengthen our faith in God and his inspired word. It is through prayer and endurance that one can overcome. Paul tells the Christians at Corinth that they can find comfort in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
It is through one’s faith in God and the avenue of prayer that we overcome any trial in this life, even one as devastating as fire. My prayers go out to those who lost these brave souls as they move forward in life. Let God be your guide ,and you can endure.
Of recent, our own areas Fire Departments have been battling a multiplicity of fires from wheat stubble and grass, to structure fires. These firefighters place their lives on the line each time they get paged to a fire.
Please keep each of these individuals in your prayers as they give of themselves for the safety of our communities and area. A pat on the back never hurts.