Hurricane Florence

  • Oct. 30, 2018
  • #9522

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with an answer to a tough question.

Even though I was on the road when it hit the news, I paid special attention to the reports of Hurricane Florence when it struck the Carolinas. You remember it. Every day there seemed to be a new report of more lives lost in that tragedy. That hurricane and the amount of driving rain it brought onshore left so much destruction and flooding. Of course, we all prayed (didn’t we), for the families of those who lost their lives. All of it seemed so senseless. I remember hearing about one mother and infant child who was just eight months old, died when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina. Rescuers spent hours trying to reach the mother and her baby when they were trapped by a tree and part of their roof had collapsed on them, and sadly, the emergency crew just couldn’t free them in time, and they lost their lives.

When you read stories like that, it just breaks your heart. It also shakes your faith. You can’t help but look to God and wonder why. Natural disasters seem to cause such erratic and brutal suffering. When hurricanes strike, wiping out many lives in what seems to be a capricious and thoughtless “act of nature,” where is God? Why didn’t His hand stave off such tragedy? Couldn’t He have made the wind shift, causing the tree to fall the other way, and save the life of an innocent baby, and his mother? Why did it have to be them?

Followers of Jesus once asked Him a similar question in the face of a natural disaster. It seems that a tower had unexpectedly fallen on some people, killing many of them. Jesus comments on the tragedy in Luke Chapter 13 when He says, “…those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

His point? Rather than suggest a cause for the calamity, Jesus responded by issuing a call for repentance. He made His listeners focus on the condition of their own soul instead of trying to assign blame. When natural disasters occur, even if God did explain His purpose, it would be like pouring million-gallon truths into our little one-ounce pea brains; we just couldn't take it all in. Instead, we are to look at hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires as God’s “wake-up calls,” (you know – ding, ding, ding, ding) sounding a loud alarm and reminding all of us how short, fleeting and frail life really is, not only for that mother and baby back in the Carolinas, but for all of us! Yes, it could have been me; it could have been you, who lost life in Hurricane Florence. But it wasn’t and that fact alone should humble you and me and cause us to examine our own souls, asking: Would I have honestly been prepared to meet God had I lost my life? Franklin Graham, whose ministry Samaritan’s Purse was right on the scene in the Carolinas providing emergency help. He once said, “Catastrophes like this also summon us to redouble our efforts to call people everywhere to repentance.” He is right.

So, let me conclude with two thoughts. Number one: When you hear about a disaster (any kind of emergency) pray; pray for the people, pray for the families, pray for the emergency workers, pray for the first responders. Those people need help and your prayers can rally help on the scene. Secondly, even though the hurricane season is behind us, I think Franklin has a great idea: together let’s buckle down and get earnest about giving the Good News of Jesus to people who do not know the Lord. Because when it comes to disasters, no matter what shape they take, (believe me, I live in California – earthquake country) you never know when a mandatory emergency evacuation is going to come to your neighborhood.

© Joni and Friends



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