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Jesus guides : I deal in hope

I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog 2007 Minneapolis Bridge Collapse and What We Can learn from Tragedy

An aerial view shows the collapsed I-35W bridge Aug. 4, 2007. At that point, five people were confirmed dead and 8 others missing. Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

In this Spring of 2020, we are dealing with the Corona virus pandemic. Fear has raised its ugly head. Gatherings are limited to ten. Church services are being streamed. Schools have closed. My daughter (along with the other counselors in her company) is seeing her clients digitally for counseling sessions. Especially those with compromised systems are asked to stay home. While the restrictions may seem extreme, it is necessary to stop the spread of this latest pandemic.

Whether like this virus we have some warning of impending disaster or if we have no warning at all, life happens. 911 was an unexpected occurrence as was the collapse of the 35W bridge in Minneapolis, MN.

After it happened and it made national news, most saw photos and viewed video clips of the massive 35W bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis and followed the search to account for all those who were traveling on the doomed bridge that afternoon. For all the tragedy, there were miracles as well.

My cousin Dwight Nelson lives in the Minneapolis area. He and his family regularly used what he called “perhaps one of the two most often traveled bridges in Minnesota.” August 1, 2007, the 35W bridge, with a 500 foot span that connected the downtown and southern areas of Minneapolis with the northern suburbs and the rest of the city, collapsed during heavy traffic. (The bridge was near where my Aunt Esther lived in a retirement situation.)

Dwight’s son, Mark, regularly took that bridge home from work. About the time Mark should have been on the bridge, Dwight got the news of its collapse. For an hour, Dwight tried to raise Mark on his cell phone, but everything was jammed. To his great relief, he found a message on his computer when he reached home. “Heya, I’m alive.” Because of road construction, Mark had taken a different route that afternoon.

That was just one of the miracles my cousin experienced that day. Dwight’s cousin Dave should have been on that bridge. But that afternoon a co-worker dropped by and started chatting, and kept talking and talking. Dave missed the crossing and the collapse on a bridge he’d used earlier in the day.

Dwight wrote this about his own escape. “I just picked up Mandy, my daughter, at the airport. (She’d been on a mission’s trip.) Since we were out looking for a quick snack, we ended up on a freeway connecting to 35W. I was tempted to take 35W home, which would have put us on the 35W bridge. At the last minute, I turned around and took a different freeway home, even though it was probably about 5 miles longer. I am not sure why I did that other than I knew traffic would be bad on 35W. Deep down, I also feel it was God’s hand moving us to take a different route home.”

Mandy’s friend escaped the collapse by a few minutes simply because she wanted to arrive at the Minnesota Twins ballgame early. Her friend, who realized she’d missed by minutes being on the bridge when it collapsed, was so shook up she left the game. Dwight also told of a stranger who stood behind him at the hardware store who said he would have been on the bridge. It was the way home. But last minute plans with his son took him another direction.

Dwight ended his post with, “I’m sure the stories will go on and on, so many people use that bridge. I am also sure that God leads and directs our lives in many different ways….” Sometimes miracles aren’t huge. Sometimes God uses what might otherwise be everyday frustrations and circumstances to change our lives.

God is right here even during times of tragedy like the bridge collapse or dealing with a pandemic. He doesn’t promises roses all the time, but He does promise to be with us, comfort and guide us as we turn to, rather than away, from Him when we go through difficult circumstances.

© 2008, 2020 Carolyn R Scheidies

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