Have you ever gone through a hurricane?
Growing up in Naples, FL this was a norm for me. My mom is an insurance agent so we never left for hurricanes as she might be needed after a terrible storm. So we had hurricane parties and to be honest we even prayed our pool cage might be taken away one or two times so we could get a new one! #firstworldproblems!
Hurricane Charlie hit my second to last semester in college. I was working in Lakeland, FL at FUMC with their youth group. Charlie hit Port Charlotte head-on. The youth director I worked for wanted to bring our high schoolers down there to serve the day after the storm hit but there was no place to stay. My parents offered up their home to house thirty high-schoolers and down we went to provide aid.
We worked in a trailer park helping people salvage their keepsakes and then assisting in the breakdown of their homes. We ripped out carpet and tore down walls.The experience was humbling and incredibly sad.
One of our youth who was outgoing was given the job to deliver supply buckets to each trailer. He became very emotional after the third house and said he did not know the feeling inside but he felt like he had the “hots” for everyone. I helped him understand that feeling as God working in him. The feeling of being a vessel of God’s love in the midst of a tragedy. Then he felt the feeling even stronger! He continued his job and prayed with the families and let them know God was with them.
The past few weeks have been a season where we have seen natural disaster strike over and again. Floods in Louisiana, fires in California and earthquakes in Italy. Now we also enter into hurricane season. As we watch the news some of us are accustomed to this season while many of us still ask, “why?”
This question is asked of pastors by our church when going through interviews to become a pastor. The question, “why does suffering and evil happen and what is God’s relationship to it?” I was reminded of this question as I am serving as a mentor for several people preparing for their interviews.
This week in reading over one person’s paperwork while reflecting on all the disasters I was reminded of a few things:
1. God created a great big powerful planet that lives and breathes and has its being. As I watch the power of storms and water I am reminded that I am not in control of everything. The earth will move and shake and change as it does and will not ask my opinion. As God created humans as living, moving and changing beings so God created the earth with the same capacity of change. Sometimes that movement and change caused by different environmental and scientific factors does effect me and other humans. Most of the time humanity’s growth and changes and needs have also effected the earth as well. We live in relationship to one another.
2. God is with us through the changing. Throughout scripture we see God is with people through the changing. At times God through Jesus has taken control of nature but most of the time that was to prove a point to a bunch of doubting disciples. In scripture we hear a parable of two men who built houses. When the storm came, not if it came, the house on the firm foundation stood strong. As we are effected by the earth’s moving we understand that God is with us and we work to build our physical houses and spiritual houses on God’s firm foundation. I do not believe God causes natural disasters but God is with us through them.
This week as we continue to pray for Louisiana, California and Italy I encourage each of us to remember God is with them and maybe even through our prayers and gifts and those of the church at large. Just as God was part of the youth’s work in Port Charlotte so God is working in the midst of these suffering all over the earth.
This week may we be given eyes to see where God is at work and choose to be part of God’s healing hand- who knows- maybe you will also have the “hots” for all those around you!
See you in worship this week!
Peace of Christ,