Peace, peace, to those far and near," says the LORD. "And I will heal them."
Things happen. Who knows for what reason - no reason, maybe. But they happen. There are so many ways to approach the how's and why's and when's - so many ways to explain, to analyze, to dissect. In the end, the thing that matters, that makes the most difference, that stays - is not what happened. What happened is already in the past. The thing that matters is what happens next.
Nineteen firefighters died in Arizona. Nineteen young men - the average age was 22. Some were married with children, some single. All felt privileged to be part of an elite group - hotshots - firefighters trained to battle in the rugged terrain of Arizona mountains and summer heat. They were a crew. A brotherhood. The best of the best. It wasn't their first rodeo. Part of the Prescott fire department, they deployed to wildfires wherever they were called - wherever they were needed. They believed in what they did - dangerous work to save - lives, property, forests. Courage and honor - self sacrifice.
But there were twenty. Twenty men called. Twenty deployed. There was protocol - procedure. Born of years of experience, countless situations, permutations - weather, fire, terrain all factors dictating the next step, the next option. The twentieth man lives. He was lookout. Nineteen went in - with a planned escape - all the pieces in place. But in a horrifying combination of weather, fire and terrain, the blaze did the unexpected. The unplanned. The unforeseen. The escape was closed out when the lookout radioed his warning - it was too late. And now he lives. He is twenty-one years old.
He lives without his brothers. He lives. He survives. Courageous. Honorable. Willing. Today is the memorial for the fallen. He will be speaking. I can't imagine what emotions will wash through him as he addresses the crowds - sadness, loss, loneliness. I wish him peace and healing. Today I honor him.
Heavenly Father, give this man your perfect peace and healing. Comfort him and the families of his crew. Help him to see his value and worth, to use his experience, to become stronger for having walked with you through that very real Valley.