The Black Forest fire draws the community together

In the midst of tragedy, Christians always have hope Photo: Now Thank We All Our God

BLACK FOREST, Colo., June 16, 2013 — This week the community of Black Forest, Colorado went through a horrific fire that swept through the entire wooded central portion of the community, destroying more than 400 homes and damaging others. Two people died.

The fire started Tuesday afternoon on a hot and windy day. The flames spread rapidly. By Friday at the 9 a.m. press conference, the sheriff was optimistic, but the fire chief could only cautiously say the fire was 5 percent contained.

SEE RELATED: Colorado fires rage and a community comes together in tragedy

Friday’s forecast was for a 20 percent chance of rain. There was at least some cloud cover most of the day. Later in the afternoon, it did rain: not a tremendous downpour, but some rain. Temperatures that had been in the 90s on Tuesday were down in the lower 70s. By the 5 p.m. press conference, officials could say a corner had been turned; the fire was 30 percent contained and some outlying areas were opened for residents to return.

It is now time to give thanks to God.

Many have suffered grievous loss. Up to 38,000 people were evacuated from their homes and most have yet to return. It may seem an odd time to give thanks, but at times like these that is exactly what Christians do.

Consider the story of Martin Rinkart, a Lutheran minister who came to Eilenburg, Saxony at the beginning of the Thirty Years War. Armies overran Eilenburg three times.

Martin Rinkart


In 1637, a Swedish army surrounded the city. Famine and plague were rampant. Eight hundred homes were destroyed. There was a tremendous strain on the pastors who had to conduct dozens of funerals daily. Finally, the pastors, too, succumbed, and Rinkart was the only one left — doing 50 funerals a day. He performed more than 4000 funerals in that year, including that of his wife.

The Swedes demanded a huge ransom. Rinkart left the safety of the walls to plead for mercy. The Swedish commander, impressed by his faith and courage, lowered his demands. When the Thirty Years’ War ended, Rinkart wrote the hymn Now thank we all our God for a grand celebration service.

It is a testament to his faith that, after such misery, he was able to write a hymn of abiding trust and gratitude toward God. It has become a favorite hymn in the Lutheran tradition.

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

We thank God now because he has delivered us from evil. We thank God because it could have been much worse. We thank God because when compared to what Martin Rinkart suffered, our suffering is small indeed.

More than that, however, we thank God because we know that from each tragedy that we endure there springs a new hope. From the ashes the forest will grow back. Homes will be rebuilt. Although objects may have burned, memories remain.

Black Forest Lutheran Church, located  in the center of Black Forest, survived, as did the Community Church next door. Others may have as well; it is too early to tell. Churches from in and around Black Forest are already reaching out to those in need.

Thanks be to God.

READ MORE from Al Maurer at Red Pill, Blue Pill

At The Voice of Liberty, we seek to advance the principles of liberty, because tyranny never sleeps.

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Al Maurer

Al Maurer is a political scientist and founder of The Voice of Liberty. He writes on topics of limited government and individual rights.

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