Peace family, our area has survived Harvey, but what now? Sometimes, the aftermath of a crisis can be even harder to sort out than surviving the crisis itself.
We need to remember that a lot of people are stressed and grieving, and they might feel and act weirdly and unpredictably for a while. That’s okay. God is still God, and now is the time for us to bandage wounds and love well. Even though it’s sunny here, Harvey continues to pour down relentlessly on Beaumont, Orange County, and Louisiana, and we need to keep praying for them, for the areas already affected, and organizing relief. We can also use our own experiences to increase our compassion for others going through similar natural disasters. We can pray for India, which has many people dying and displaced on account of floods. We can pray for Montana and Oregon, which have terrible forest fires right now (I wish we could send them our rain!) We also might face some shortages and fluctuating prices and economy problems for a while, but we can hold our peace and stay positive.
In these times of stress, it’s hard not to let fear and dissension become rampant in our lives. People are talking about another storm forming over the ocean. Some people are taking this time of devastation as an opportunity to make political cartoons or write about how Texans deserve to be flooded and destroyed for contributing to global warming, for failing to adequately prepare or evacuate (these people do not understand the logistics), and even for Texas being one of the states that helped to elect President Trump. Others have taken this time as an opportunity to criticize political and religious leaders. Others have robbed the vulnerable or attacked first responders. Still others criticize relief efforts for not doing things the way that they think they should, not collecting the resources that they think they should, not using the resources in the way that they think they should, or not relieving the areas where they think that they should.
Earlier today, I was deeply discouraged by all of this hatred stirring, from within America and from abroad, from non-Christians and from Christians! However, I just needed a reminder that God is still God, and the devil is always trying to steal, kill, and destroy, whether we are physically destroyed, or he merely destroys our hope in God. If you are feeling stolen from, killed, or destroyed, remember who is the source of destruction and lies. The devil doesn’t want us to be effective in our trust of God and our care for other people. He wants us to live in fear. He wants us to “curse God and die” (as the wife of Job said.)
I’ve even seen good people feeling ashamed, grieved or guilty because they are wrestling through their own homes faring better than their neighbors’, or are believing that their own heartaches don’t matter compared to the world’s greater tragedies, but it’s not true. Tragedy is not a contest. God cares about you.
Instead, Peace Family, as God commands us, let’s set time aside to think about, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–[and anything that is] excellent or praiseworthy” (see Philippians 4:8.) Let’s also rejoice in the midst of the tragedies by remembering the good things that we have in Christ, and the acts of love we have seen. Let’s fight fire with fire!
I want to tell you about friends of mine concerned and praying for us in their homes in England. I have seen pictures of people in Haiti who, in the middle of a malaria crisis, made a special time to pray for Texas. I want to tell you about a Frenchman whom I saw online, defending Texans and Americans in response to people attacking the situation with misconceptions. I want to remind you of first responders traveling all the way from Ohio, Nebraska, New York, South Carolina, and Louisiana. I want to let you know that my family, many of them displaced from their homes, are wanting to have an early Thanksgiving celebration for the ways that God has been faithful to us. I also have seen so many people wanting to help, and actively helping, like the child who wrote the note pictured above and gave it to us during our supply drive earlier this week.
Peace family, be encouraged! God is moving. For every ugly thing you see, God is doing something good somewhere. Let’s spread that beauty and encouragement, and keep praying. We’re going to make it! Don’t let the negativity steal the joy and the peace that we have in Christ. In the coming months, let’s keep our eyes and hearts open to ways that God might be moving and asking us to serve. People will continue to need help putting their lives back together. Trust in God, and love well.