NELDON: Church fire reminds us of the power of faith

Last week, storms sweeping Cass County led to the heartbreaking destruction of a Cassopolis landmark — but, like the walls of their beloved building, the Calvin Community Chapel community would not be broken.

When the 90-year-old chapel went up in flames after being struck by lightning last Friday evening, Cass County experienced a grave loss. Sunday morning, as congregants would have normally been making their way to the church for service, I traveled with my mom out to the rural chapel to photograph the damage.

The interior of the building was reduced to char and debris — completely destroyed by the fire that spread quickly throughout the structure. This was my first time stepping foot on the church’s grounds, and my heart still broke for the congregation. I could not imagine the grief of those who called this church home.

As I talked with church members throughout the day Sunday, however, one theme was repeated over and over: their faith would get them through.

I was moved to tears more than once as these individuals chose to praise the walls that were still standing, rather than mourn the ruined interior. They talked of fond memories and hope for an exciting new chapter, rather than complaining about the loss of the structure.

When faced with strife and fear, it is so easy to succumb to negative feelings. As the world has battled a global pandemic, racial tension, political division and feelings of isolation and fear these past few months, the pressure to give into negativity has been unbearably strong. Like so many these past several months, I have had my moments of hopelessness, anger and sadness.

This week, though, I was reminded of the power of faith.

Whether or not you are religious, we all have it within us to choose to look at the positive rather than reveling in negative feelings. We have the power to choose mind over matter, focus on the positive and thank our lucky stars for the good that continues to happen in our world.

I am by no means suggesting that we turn a blind eye to the bad. As a journalist, I remain committed to seeing and presenting the world for what it is — in good times and in bad.

Calvin Community Chapel’s members reminded me, though, that every dark cloud has a silver lining, and how we react to darkest days makes all the difference in the days ahead.

As we have been forced to distance ourselves from others, we have been reminded of the value of human connection.

As we have worried over health and wellness, we have relearned healthy habits to bolster our immune systems.

As we have witnessed other in distress, faced with food insecurity, financial disparities or health challenges, many of us have offered up time, money and service to ease their suffering.

I won’t pretend that all the bad in the world will disappear with a can-do spirit and plucky attitude, but we can all do our part to find the light among the darkness — and if we can’t, we can choose to be the light ourselves.

As my new friends at Calvin Community Chapel reminded me last weekend, a whole lot of good can happen if we resolve to have a little faith.

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