Don’t Waste the Storm

“As we rebuild our city, let us not rebuild the walls that Hurricane Harvey tore down.” – Words from my pastor

Over the past few weeks in southeast Texas, we have endured flooding and catastrophe. We’ve seen the heavens open up and relentlessly saturate our cities. There’s been no rainfall event its equal in the recorded continental U.S. history. The hurricane stalled so long over Houston, one meteorologist described the hurricane as pulling up its own flood waters to dump them back down again. After the storm finally left, we saw devastation everywhere. And we are still flooded in some places.

Just days ago, Hurricane Irma ravaged islands in the Caribbean and continued on a path that devastated the Florida Keys and brought significant flooding and destruction to other large areas of Florida as well. Plus, the Pacific Northwest and parts of California are currently aflame in huge forest fires, some with zero percent containment, threatening lives and filling the air with thick smoke.

So allow me to say again, ““As we rebuild our city, let us not rebuild the walls that ___________ tore down.”

In the midst of calamity, we have risen and will rise above our dividing lines. I’ve heard many words of hope come out of the disaster in Texas. I began to feel a sense of brotherhood with my fellow mankind…a sense of true community based in love for one another. Yet, a gnawing remembrance has already begun to chip away at my hope: these words of love and grace are so easily dismissed once there is recovery. We quickly return to agendas that divide us and to the polarizing language that destroys us. With the Texas flooding, the return began even before the rains ceased.

The kind of love that reaches across division seems to be an unnatural love for us humans. It is the kind of love of which Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount when he taught us to love our enemies and do good to those who do not do good to us. He told us that whatever we would have done to us is what we should do for others. (Luke 6:27-31) This practice does not come about easily. I know that there are everyday occurrences of such great love, but on a larger scale, such as a city, it took disaster to see this love demonstrated across all lines.

So my question is: How do we hold onto such great love for each other? Or will we just slip back into our old habits and ways of thinking once we have recovered? “A fool wastes the pain of suffering and goes right back to his former ways, learning nothing”…more words from my pastor. We’ve had a glimpse of what it looks like to live in love and goodness, but the truth of man’s nature is that he will do what is not good. He will return to his former ways. (Psalm 14:3, Romans 3:12) I’ve already seen people using the hurricane as a platform for their own agendas and political statements. The great good of our love for one another already being warped and spoiled for personal and political gain.

This is why we humans need a Savior. We need One who truly knows goodness and love because He is Goodness and Love. We need One who will not spoil any situation, but rather redeem it. We need a reason to love, a reason to hope, a reason to change our ways. We need the goodness of God.

We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

For some quick ways to dive in deeper on God’s goodness:

How Good is Good Enough for God” Jonty Allcock (20 min.)
Do We Need God in the Good Times?” John Lennox (1 hour)
The Problem of Suffering and the Goodness of God”  Ravi Zacharias (2 hours)