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In last week’s post, I asked you to look back on the past year and to think about the three most significant events and what they meant to you.  For me the most disturbing event was the fire that all but destroyed the city of Gatlinburg, a tourist town in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that I visited as a child in 1957.

Several weeks ago, severe forest fires in and around Gatlinburg took the lives of both humans and animals. The raging fires also destroyed businesses and homes. The media called the November 28 fire the worst for Tennessee in 100 years. The widespread fires fanned by ferocious winds distressed residents and tourists of all ages and all walks of life–young and old, rich and poor, healthy and ill.

More importantly, volunteers went to work. Neighbors were helping neighbors and strangers were helping strangers. Volunteers rescued people who were trapped in their homes or businesses. The volunteers did not just sit back and say, what a terrible situation. They were not apathetic about the disaster and its effects on the residents. They took action because of what they saw and read, and they decided to become a part of the solution.

When we consider good or bad, whether they result from natural occurrences or from human-made failures, we should feel compassion for people of these circumstances. As humans, we are called to put our compassion into action and express our concern to individuals who have needs. Prayer is important, yes, but our concern should be physically expressed. We should go out of our way to help others who need assistance even those who are different, who live far away or who speak a different language.  That is one of my most significant takeaways from 2016.  What is yours? Reflect back on your year and enjoy the journey.

Never give up! Never give up! Never give up!

Chaplain Walter Ghosten

By Chaplain Ghosten