by Dale Reeves

Story Pastor


Several years ago my wife and I were fortunate to travel with family to vacation in the lush paradise that is the beautiful island of Maui. We loved spending time at Kamaole Beach in the town of Kihei, snorkeling around Black Rock, navigating the steep roads in the West Maui mountains, savoring Kona coffee, and admiring the painted bark Eucalyptus trees and numerous waterfalls as we drove the famous road to Hana. We took a refreshing dip in the “seven sacred pools” and then swam alongside honu (green sea turtles) at Makena Landing.


One morning we woke up at 2:30 am to be picked up by our van driver who led us on a trek up Haleakala volcano before sunrise. It took us an hour and a half to travel 37 miles and reach the 10,023-foot summit, where we looked down on the clouds and marveled at the wind-chilling, but majestic sunrise at 5:30 am as our host played, “Here Comes the Sun.” It felt as if we were on the moon, yet we were only six miles from the ocean.


And, then a highlight of our trip was spending an evening at the Old Lahaina Luau. Throughout the evening, we were taken on a journey of the Hawaiian people, as told through the storytelling of the hula, beginning with the kahiko (ancient) style, and ending with the auana (modern) style. The entertainers performed with love and reverence, as each dance is part of the history of the culture they honor. Our trip to Maui was amazing, from the first day of our arrival to our final majestic sunset on our last evening there. I think that God created places like Maui to give us just a glimpse of the splendor of Heaven.



No doubt you’re aware of the tragedy that took place on this Hawaiian island beginning on the evening of August 8. Devastating wildfires erupted and swept through several towns, claiming the lives of 111 people as of this writing (from the elderly to children)—with many more still unaccounted for. The flames raced as fast as a mile every minute in one area, fueled by dry grass and propelled by strong winds. Some families jumped into the Pacific Ocean to save their lives, where they stayed in the water for hours until the fires had left their area. The responders who are now combing through the ashes of what used to be homes in Lahaina are recovering their own loved ones and friends in this small tight-knit community. The deadliest US fire in over 100 years, around 2,200 structures were destroyed or damaged, 86% of them residential.


Even while firefighters tried to battle the out-of-control blazes and sought to save lives, many of them were losing their own homes. Some watched their homes burn as they fought the fire for other homes in their neighborhood. And, then, some of them ran out of water to fight the fires, having to leave houses to simply burn. As of this past Wednesday morning, the Maui Memorial Medical Center had treated 148 patients with fire-related injuries.


Maui Health COO Wade Ebersole commented,

“It’s hard to find someone that isn’t directly connected to someone who’s been directly impacted by the fires. This is a scar that we will carry for a very long time.”


As devastating as this tragedy is, I couldn’t help but think this week about how the world will end in a cataclysmic fire. God’s Word tells us:

“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness” (2 Peter 3:9-13, NLT).


Read Revelation chapter 8 to see what is going to transpire when the seventh seal is opened, and seven angels blow seven trumpets, heralding the end of the world as we know it. But the great news for those who have accepted God’s gift of rescue and salvation is that we will be ushered into an eternity where there will be no more pain, or grief, or sin, or sorrow. But until that time, we grieve, we mourn our losses, and we come alongside one another in the midst of our human suffering.


Grief and Hope

In the words of Derek LaFontaine, the care and counseling pastor at Hope Chapel in Kihei, Maui:

“Maui is grieving. The biblical term David would use is lamenting. We’re lamenting together. We know there is a hope on the other side of this, but I don’t think God wants us to jump over the grieving. So many people are questioning their faith right now, trying to live in the tension between a disaster and the hope of God. . . . How do you praise God through this? As we engage with the grief and sorrow of those who have lost everything, may we speak hope into their lives.”


Then he shared from Psalm 34:4-8:

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (NIV).


In his message this past Sunday at Hope Chapel in Maui, pastor Ben Prangnell shared these words:

“God wants us to lament, sharing our pain and confusion, and it’s one of the primary ways that we process our grief in God’s presence. We’re made in the image of God and we know that God grieves. Jesus understood sorrow. This grief is a way that God has enabled us to get through the transitions of life. . . . Did you know that it was a custom in Bible times when people were mourning that you would catch your tears in a bottle, and then give them to that person as a token of your affection and care? David tells us that it is God who collects our tears and records them in his book because he knows us intimately, he remembers our sorrows, and catches every tear.”


“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8, NLT).


To watch the worship service from Hope Chapel in Maui this past Sunday, you can view it here.


In our darkest moments, we can run to God, and we can trust him. He is where our help comes from! Pastor Craig Groeschel says,


“Peace isn’t found in the absence of a storm. True peace is found in the presence of God.”


How to Help

The Red Cross said some 575 evacuees were spread across five shelters as of Monday. Thousands of people will need housing for at least the next eight or nine months. As the body of Christ, let us pray that Jesus would comfort those who are grieving the loss of loved ones, their homes, and their livelihoods. Would you join me in praying for firefighters, first responders, and those who are working tirelessly in rescue and recovery efforts? And, pray for the church in the Hawaiian islands to mobilize and be the hands of feet of Jesus, that they would extend hope to all in desperate need of hope.


If you want to help meet some practical needs for the thousands of people who lost homes or are displaced on Maui, I would encourage you to help those who been most impacted by responding here.