Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dual Hurricanes. Why?

For several weeks, there was nothing else in the news for the most part. The nation was largely riveted to The Weather Channel as non-stop coverage covered the arrival of not one, but two, major hurricanes that would crash into the U.S. coast two weeks apart.
First came Harvey, a powerful storm that came across the warm Gulf of Mexico and hit Texas head on. The Category 3 made landfall with 125 mph winds. But the damage came in the way of massive flooding produced by rainfall totals of 50 plus inches in some places. That was because the storm stalled in the area for several days due to being trapped between two high pressure weather systems. That amount of the damage will take a while to assess, but may approach or even exceed that of Katrina  just 12 years earlier almost to the day.

The other storm was Irma. This monster speed across the Caribbean as a Category 4 and 5 at times. It literally obliterated many of the small islands there and some that are well known resort areas. It then made its way towards Cuba and set its sights in Florida. Because of the sheer size, Florida saw the greatest evacuation ever for a storm there. Irma was originally supposed to strike the Miami area. But it turned at the last minute and ventured up the west coast of the state. Overall, the potential damage for Irma was not quite as significant as first feared. But there still was significant damage, and it impacted the entire state before moving into Georgia and beyond.

Many are offering their opinions and guesses as to why these storms came so fast, furious and so close together. And the hurricane season is far from over. There could be more, and who knows how intense they might also be? But it is interesting that at least among some Christian leaders from various places, there is one theme that often arises. It was said by Max Lucado, James Robison, Greg Laurie, Franklin Graham, Kirk Cameron and many others. They all mentioned that is very possible, if not likely, that God is at least trying to get the attention of the American people through these storms.

Natural disasters began the moment sin entered the world when mankind fell in the Garden of Eden. And they will continue, and even increase, according to Romans 8:22. "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.’" We also know that the last days will bring increased troubles in nature according to Luke 21:25. "There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves." 

And we know that, along with these things, there will be moral conditions that echo those back in the day when God personally sent the storm of all storms and the flood that made all others look like child’s play. In Matthew 24, we read, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” 

Did God personally send Harvey, Irma or Katrina? I have no idea. Sometimes these things come through the natural laws of nature that He put in place long ago, and they are part of life in a fallen world. Could Satan have had a part here? Perhaps. If you don’t think that is possible, read the book of Job where God permitted the Devil do everything but kill Job – including the use of a violent storm wind storm that killed most of his family.

But the issue in the aftermath of these storms, both of which took human life, is this: Are we really ready to face what these kinds of catastrophes bring? Are we living for only ourselves as the above passage described back in Noah’s day? Are we among those who reject or miss the vivid warning given in James 4:13-14? “Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” 

One blog In The Christian Post said this. "These storms should reveal to us all at least four essential things. Everything is broken. Everyone needs a Savior. We must pray fervently. And God is still merciful." Those four statements, and what they fully represent, speak well to what the deepest answers to all of life’s most crucial issues are!

Today we have days and sometimes weeks of warning of what is coming in the way of a major storm like Harvey or Irma. The term that is typically front and center is "preparation" whether that includes protecting property and perhaps evacuation. Both those vital things in a dangerous hurricane will never work and are of no use in the spiritual realm. The Bible says in Mark 8:36-37 "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" 

During the evacuations, we heard authorities advise people to flee the storm and get out while they could. I heard one phrase over and over. "We can rebuild homes and replace cars. But we cannot rebuild lost lives." That was perhaps more profound that even they knew when considering eternity in the mix.

Perhaps today you do not live anywhere near where frightening and destructive storms typically strike. If so, that is a blessing, and do your part to support those who do. But just know that there is no safety or place to run and hide for a lost soul outside of the preparation that is personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Only the Savior can prepare any of us for life’s storms big and little and to even face death itself while sheltered in His loving ark of redemption!

"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

Bill Breckenridge