The Gatlinburg Story Timeline
Dear Mr. Reed:
Since Monday night, I and tens of thousands of people around the world have been watching the tragedy unfold in Gatlinburg. We saw your plea to the people there to help you find your beloved family, and we prayed for you and for them. We prayed that they would be found, and you would be reunited.
And today, we’re crying with you. We’re crying with your family. And I have seen some comments from hateful people, mocking us for our faith, saying our prayers didn’t work. That “the imaginary sky fairy” doesn’t exist.
And I know from personal experience that when the pain is so deep it freezes your blood, when the despair is so wide and so strong there seems to be no light, love, or life left, even those with deep faith may question–Why? Why does our Father not hear us, not answer us? I say he DOES hear us–but his plans as a parent to ALL, don’t always seem fair to one. Or even many.
I am NOT saying that is how you feel. But I do know that right now, when the pain is the worst, it can be so very hard to breathe, to endure, to take one. More. Moment.
Your Story, And Your Family, Matter.
At the beginning of this tragedy, the big networks didn’t care. Most regional networks didn’t care either. News coverage was almost non-existent. But then, you gave an interview about your missing family–and something happened. People saw you–your honesty, your deep grief and fear, the obvious love you have for your wife and daughters, and they responded. The interview began spreading on social media.
Then the MSM began to notice, and the press began reporting. And around the world, people became aware of the horrible tragedy that has taken so much from the people of Gatlinburg, and Sevierville, And Pigeon Forge. Donations began pouring in to both local charities and Red cross. YOUR story, and the awareness it brought, has helped raise money to pay vet bills for a little autistic girl’s therapy pony. Your honest face, the face of a loving, frightened grieving father, has moved literally hundreds of people to contact me and ask–“What can I do to help Gatlinburg and Michael Reed”?
Were it not for your story, sir, who knows how many people wouldn’t have CARED enough to help? I don’t know. But I do know that it was YOUR story that is still leading people to my facebook, asking me how they can help.
Believe me– had prayer been enough, your family and the others who died would have been wrapped in the prayers of hundreds, then thousands of people, and they would still be with you. And the others who have died would be alive also. But The Lord called your family, and the others who we all mourn now, home to him. And all the prayers we had couldn’t change HIS will.
But He never gives us a burden greater than we can bear And he never closes a door, without opening an even bigger one. The heart-wrenching video your wife made is already going viral, and only The Lord knows how many little girls, innocents in harm’s way, will be saved by it. And your personal story has brought so much attention to the Gatlinburg Story. The Lord is using that story to call people to help, to give. Your story is showing people how important it is to love your family, to never take life or those you love for granted. Your story is drawing many people from around the nation to Gatlinburg, to help you, and your fellow citizens, get back on your feet. To bring Gatlinburg, Sevierville, and Pigeon Forge, new life, new hope, and a brighter future.
And much of that came because of your initial interview, Mr. Reed. Your interview, and your family, are such a force for good. Constance, through her video, will be a continuing force, for good. Heavenly Father, for reasons only He knows, has called your beautiful wife and daughters home. But he also made sure, when he did, that he made their plight and your count for something far larger than any of us can see right now.
And I hope that when times are hard for you in the future–on those special days when the memories are strongest–you look around and count all the blessings. Count the new homes and businesses, the opportunities, the people, and realize that a part of that came from you. And know that just because they have been found now doesn’t mean we won’t all still be praying for you, your son, and the rest of your family–because we will. they’re our family now, too, you see.