Hurricane Harvey

August 30th, 2017

A home has its stories. Happy memories are made in homes. Dreams come true in homes. Friendships are forged around tables in homes. A home is an amazing place until you are forced to leave it. Hurricane Harvey hit ground five days ago. At the time of the writing of this article, it is estimated that 15 trillion gallons of water have fallen on Houston due to Harvey. It is estimated that 20-25 trillion gallons will have fallen on Houston by the time the rains end.

I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. We have many family members, friends, former neighbors and church family members who live in the area. I am thankful to say that our family members are safe, but at least one home of a cousin has taken on water. I have several friends who have had to be evacuated from their homes. My Facebook feed has been filled with images of flooded homes, rescue boats, and prayers. It’s overwhelming. The sense of helplessness, displacement and worry for tomorrow or even the next few hours has been palpable. Those who have endured the storm have spent sleepless nights watching the water and watching over loved ones. The emotional and physical toll has been great. The incredible out pouring of help and generosity from neighbors who have banded together to give aid to those in distress has also been great.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Katrina was one of the most devastating hurricanes of modern history. At that time, Houstonians answered the call to serve many of those from from Louisiana refuge. It has been heartening to see so many from Louisiana offering aid to their neighbors in Texas. I have loved seeing the “Cajun Navy” patrolling the streets in boats looking for those in need of rescue. These sights of generosity and signs of grace demonstrate what it looks like to be the Church in the midst of disaster.

My immediate family now lives in North Carolina. It has been very hard to see all the images of Hurricane and then Tropical Storm Harvey’s destruction and not be there with family and friends. We have been checking in frequently and given God thanks every time we hear the phrase, “we’re safe.” We grieve with those who have been displaced from the homes that they love, not knowing if they will even be able to go back to them. The sense of loss so quickly grips the heart. It is not only a loss of possession, but a fear that some memories will also be washed away along with the familiar surroundings that have served as conduits of memory.

Many turn to Scripture in fragile times like these. I’ve heard many unhelpful diagnoses as to why this natural disaster happened to the good people of the Gulf Coast. The more helpful scripture that has come to my mind in the midst of it all is Romans 8:19-22, which reads:

19 The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters. 20 Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice—it was the choice of the one who subjected it—but in the hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now.

I believe that our creation suffers along with us and suffers even when we think things are just fine. Scripture calls us again and again to care for one another and all of God’s creation. My prayer is that we would be faithful and generous in our care for those who are suffering after devastating loss and for God’s good creation that seems to be under greater stress. It is in the dark times that we need God’s sons and daughters to reflect the most light.

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