“This disaster is going to be a landmark event.” That’s how the head of FEMA describes the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. “This is a storm that the United States has not seen yet,” he adds.
I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Except for four years when Janet and I pastored a church in Atlanta, Georgia, I have lived my entire life in Texas. Never have I seen such destruction in my home state as we are witnessing in these days.
This morning, a local official called the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey “an 800-year event.” The National Weather Service describes the damage as “unprecedented” and “beyond anything experienced.” According to the Insurance Information Institute, flood damage may equal that of Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in United States history.
Our nation’s fourth-largest city is predicted to get as much as fifty inches of rain, the highest amount ever recorded in Texas. Thirteen million people are under flood watches stretching from Corpus Christi to New Orleans. A FEMA spokesman warns that “the recovery effort is going to be going on for weeks, months, and probably even years.”
It is only natural to ask what difference faith makes in the face of such devastation. Didn’t the God we worship make this broken world? The Bible explains that human sin corrupted our planet so that “the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8:22). But did God then abandon us to the consequences of our Fall?
In fact, the opposite is true.
Our Father promises us, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:2). His word assures us, “There is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39, GNT).
If you’re a parent, do you love your children less when they face catastrophe? Or do you find tangible ways to make your love real to them in their pain?
Rescuers have saved thousands of people across the Texas Gulf Coast. Donations from across the country are supporting relief agencies. One ministry Janet and I have already supported in this crisis is Texas Baptist Men Disaster Relief, which is in the midst of the largest Texas response in its fifty-year history.
No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Your church can partner with churches and ministries on the front lines of this unfolding disaster. You can give time, money, and resources to help those who have lost everything. And you can pray fervently, asking God to redeem this tragedy by using the “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27) to share the love of Christ with millions in need.
A man from a small town on the Texas coast was interviewed yesterday as he unloaded his boat. A reporter asked him what he was going to do. “I’m gonna try to save some lives,” the man responded.
Let’s join him.