God Knows Our Afflictions

When Israel was in bondage to Egypt, the Book of Exodus tells us that they cried out to the Lord for help, and in Exodus 3:7, the Lord responded to His servant Moses, saying, ?I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.?

I receive in the mail the Guidestone Magazine. Guidestone is the organization that takes care of retirement for ministers. Their magazine is full of interesting articles and among them are life stories of people who have struggled through hard times. The story I want to tell you about is the story of Mrs. Hazel McInnis, a dear minister?s wife in her 90?s who has had her share of struggles as we all do,?but whom the Lord has brought safely through her trials. The article about her is entitled, ?Safe in the Storm?.

She and her husband, Rev. Garland McInnis, were ministers to the poor people of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. In fact, he was instrumental in getting the first church ever built in the poor section of town. No one ever expected a church to be built there, but he, with the blessing of the town fathers, was able to get a church built. The Church is called River Avenue Baptist Church. The people of Hattiesburg, because of his great love for the poor and needy, simply called him Hattiesburg?s ?city pastor?. In 1970, Garland was forced to give up his pastorate due to a heart attack, but he and his wife continued their ministry of giving out food and clothing to the poor through the Helping Hands ministry. He also conducted Bible studies and did counseling among the prisoners of the city jail. When the prisoners got out, the McInnis?s often invited them to stay?in their home until they could find a place and work of their own. But on the afternoon of January 8, 1979, Garland, after a morning visit to the jail, stopped off at his office. Sitting in his chair, he put his head down on the desk and quietly passed away.

That was a big enough heartache for Hazel, but her troubles were not over. At the age of 92 she weathered Katrina in 2005 as it cut a path along interstate 59 through southern Mississippi. It damaged her house and destroyed the house next door where a vacant lot now sits. But on February 10, of this year, she experienced a tornado that could have taken her life. It had struck Hattiesburg, causing extensive damage to the University of Southern Mississippi, and then dropped down again in the neighborhood of Petal, Mississippi, where she now lives, and once again began its destructive path. She said it sounded like a bomb had exploded when she hid herself in her hallway closet. She had nothing but her purse, her cell phone, and a flashlight. Suddenly, everything turned quiet as she opened the closet door. All her walls were still standing, but her two big oak trees in the front yard had been pulled up and had fallen?on the vacant lot next door. It was a neighbor?s tree that fell on her bathroom, only a few feet away from where she was hiding. All that was done to her house was $10,000 worth of roof damage. On the next street two houses had been moved twenty feet off of their foundations. Three blocks away the Ace Hardware store had been completely leveled, with only the soda machine standing.

But do you know what? As she hid herself in that closet, she knew God was watching over her. She was never afraid. She kept quoting over and over Psalm 32:7, ?Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble.? She could have died, but the Lord brought her through the storm.

?? But then, that?s what God does. He brings us through the storms so that we can emerge on the other side knowing that He watches over us. The next time you go through a storm, don?t forget to cry out to the Lord who hears your pleas.

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