Confession: Hurricanes scare me. As I write this, Hurricane Florence is due soon. Where I live should only receive parts of this major storm, but I have relatives and friends in North Carolina and Virginia who are directly in the path.
Predicted to be one of the worst storms to strike the Carolina’s in many years, there are many reasons to be concerned. The wind will be devastating but the worst may be the flood surge followed by days of relentless rain.
If you live in the path of the hurricane, there are only two possible options: leave or stay. If you leave, you worry about your property, your neighbors and the community in general. You feel helpless when you want to be helping. Yet, if you stay, you run the risk of not only endangering your life and the lives of your family, but you also endanger the lives of the professionals who must rescue you.
Facebook certainly shows what people are thinking:
• “Every store is sold out of water! Ya’ll know where I can find some?”
• “I know it may be hard but please try to find something to smile and laugh about today. It helps!”
• “I take hurricanes seriously. We struggled to find water and fuel but we will be prepared. 15-gallon containers will be filled with water. Our home will be open to those in need.”
• “A good way to respond to help with disaster relief is to donate now to UMCOR or to another charity involved with disaster relief. They offer more than help. They bring hope.”
Florence struck near Wrightsville Beach, NC around 7 a.m. Friday with winds approaching 100 miles per hour but the storm extends for several hundred miles. It’s the potential flooding that is dangerous. Florence slowed and stalled dropping a huge amount of rain. Rivers are already well past flood stage. In a television interview, the police chief in Wilmington, NC feared this would be a storm of Biblical proportions! As of Sunday morning, at least nine people killed. Over 900,000 homes and businesses without power. There have been over 400 rescues in New Bern, NC alone with more than 100 people waiting. This is one of the worst storms to ever hit the Carolina’s.
Glued to the news reports, all I can do is pray but my heart is aching with compassion for those caught in the path of the storm. I noticed one news picture showed members of the Whiteville Fire Department as they pause for a moment of prayer ahead of going into the field to conduct water rescues. And, there are the animals. According to the Washington Post, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue moved 40 cats and dogs from South Carolina to Northern Virginia to make room for pets rescued in the storm. But along the way, their transport van broke down leaving them stranded. An SOS went out on Facebook. Volunteers soon appeared with supplies, water and transportation. Another good Samaritan paid to fix the broken van. Storms have a way of bringing out the best as well as the worst in us.
Facing his own storm, the Apostle Paul wrote: “We were crushed and completely overwhelmed and thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God. And he did deliver us from mortal danger. And we are confident that he will continue to deliver us. He will rescue us because you are helping by praying for us. As a result, many will give thanks to God because so many people’s prayers for our safety have been answered.” (2 Co 1:8-11)
Despite facing a crushing storm of his own, Paul provides several important lessons:
1. You are not alone. Overwhelming, crushing trouble could happen to anyone.
2. As a result, we learn to rely not just on ourselves but on God.
3. God will rescue us and continue to deliver us.
4. Your help and prayers are an important part of God’s response.
5. We give thanks because so many prayers have been answered. For those caught in the storm named Florence and for those facing other storms: “You are not alone. Overwhelming storms can happen to anyone. Learn to rely on God who will deliver us. Your prayers are critical. We give God thanks for answered prayers.”
May God continue to protect those in the path of Hurricane Florence. May God guide the rest of us to do our part to provide desperately needed resources and aid. May we trust God to see us through this horrific storm named Florence as well as other storms we encounter.
Next week: Hurricane Florence: How can we help?
REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@sowningseedsoffaith. com.