Storms, Floods, and Wildfires

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The last few months have been disruptive to tens of thousands of Americans. Hurricanes in the Southern States and Puerto Rico plus destructive wildfires in Oregon and California have caused massive losses. Homes, businesses, and infrastructure were damaged or destroyed. Even more significant is the tragic loss of life. The most recent tragedy is California’s rapidly moving wildfires that only gave minutes for people to flee- some didn’t make it out in time.
The loss and disruption to the lives of many go far beyond America. Millions in the Middle East and Asia have fled their home countries to seek safety. Presently, the Rohingya people are fleeing Myanmar to Bangladesh. This is resulting in yet another humanitarian crisis.
As Christians, how should we respond? Be glad it is safe at our address and that it is not our babies that are being born as refugees with no rights or citizenship? First of all, we should include ourselves in the question, “what is God wanting to tell us?”
These five things may be what God wants us to consider instead of closing the newspaper and being glad we can go on with a typical day.
1. Believe God is in control. Very soon one learns we live in a dangerous world. When a bicyclist is hit and killed in front of our place, it underscores how our times are in God’s hands. We need to believe God is in control even though it appears otherwise. In the midst of the fires, floods, winds, and earthquakes, God is hearing prayers and responding in many ways. God is merciful and not dealing out to man the justice he deserves.
2. Be moved with compassion. Many of us can read the tragedies with a calloused heart and without a tear. Jesus was consistent with being “moved with compassion.” “And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick” (Matt 14:14). A native of Texas that I spoke to about Houston said they built houses on wetlands that should not have been built on. That is what contributed to the flooding. Yes, sometimes we bring problems on ourselves with poor choices. Jesus certainly could see a lot of poor choices in that great multitude, yet he “was moved with compassion toward them.” May we constantly pray that we would have Christ-like compassion toward those in need.
3. Make opportunities to bring love and kindness. “And Jesus went forth”. If Jesus had stayed home he would not have seen the great multitudes that day. Jesus made an opportunity when he “went forth”. While making opportunities to show love and kindness begins at home, it should not end there. As Christians, we should try to make opportunities to take Jesus' love abroad. Does this rest on some large relief organization? Or can we take personal initiative just like we do in many other areas of life? Perhaps we have been trained in thinking “somebody should make it happen.” That somebody being a “relief committee”. Being a Christian means we are on the committee! In the coming days, there should be many opportunities to bring love and kindness to areas “hit”. Is it too lofty a goal that 10% of our church membership be able to help in the South or the West? It would seem a congregation of one hundred should have ten to send. We should be able to exceed that!
4. Remember Sin is worse than Storms and Wildfires. We live in a time of prosperity, convenience, and comfort. We are wired to think electricity is our right. Indeed, to have the Puerto Rico situation in our neighborhood would devastate the economy, our convenience, and comfort. But sin is worse! “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23a). If the storms, flood, and wildfires help man consider sin and find Jesus as the answer for sin, then something very good has happened.
5. Take the Glorious Gospel to the world. It’s a dangerous world we live in. The recent shooting in Las Vegas only illustrates the need for a personal Savior. For the shooter and the 58 killed, their eternal destiny is sealed. The 546 injured people have another chance to respond to the glorious Gospel message that gives security in our dangerous world. “But the Gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:23b). The residents of Heaven will have no hurricanes or evacuation orders. There will be no refugees fleeing to another area of Heaven - no tragic events or news whatsoever. We should be energized to take the Gospel to all the dear souls that have experienced such heartache in this world. Most important is that they receive the “gift of eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Let us not hesitate to take the glorious Gospel everywhere we can. May it be an effort of every age group. It may start with our willingness to cut out soggy drywall. It could end with another individual receiving the best gift. That is a far better help than what FEMA can give!