Sandy changed the lives of one in four Americans who are living in part of the country that stretches from New York to the Great Lakes. The pictures of the devastation that swept in on the night of October 29, 2012 ago are jaw-droppers. My brain can’t wrap around the troubles that have flooded into people’s lives. Over night, thus far, one hundred-ten Americans lost their lives; others lost their possessions; many more have been overrun with fear.
Before the storm hit, when the warnings from the weather reports were beginning, I was preparing a talk on Revelation 7 – a welcome interlude between all kinds of troubles John saw when six of the seven seals were undone, and then when the seventh one was broken open. (Revelation 6 & 8) When I started reading the lesson on Thursday, and the description of the four angels holding back the four winds, Sandy had just pummeled the Caribbean, and now threatened the east coast. By Friday morning, I had passed from being mildly concerned about my family’s well being to being more frightened – mindful of severe repercussions that come with a late season hurricane in Maryland. That day at lunch, a friend and I managed a laugh about what a great illustration a hurricane might be in the discussion of those winds in Revelation 7:1. But, with the unfolding details of the storm, and the seriousness with which the kids were preparing their homes, I wasn’t laughing. Our son’s comment was, “We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.”
Sandy’s potential swath was so vast and brutal, from New York to the Great Lakes that a newscaster said it would affect one in four Americans, one quarter, of the US population.
Hmmmm. What did Revelation 6:8 say? The pale rider was given power to destroy a fourth of the earth
When we walked into church on Sunday morning, I was freaked. A storm, the likes of which had not been seen since the 1820’s, a storm the size of Texas, was bearing down on our kids. There was nowhere to run to – to hide – and I couldn’t shelter them. But in the midst of worship, God got a grip on my runaway emotions. Worship does that. So, too, the compassion and prayers of friends help calm me down – even as I remained glued to the coverage of what was happening, trying to put together a talk on what John saw in the throne room. (Praise in the midst of Peril)
Believing the promises of God in the midst of faith-testing trials is a facet of Christianity that is a fiery dart for Christ’s followers, and an enduring objection of those who doubt or reject God. We all want to know “Why?” when the innocent suffer. I believe God showed John answers in the apocalyptic visions recorded in Revelation.
I hope for the best: I want to be in the throne room – with all the people I know and love; I want to be in that number – when the saints go marching in - I don’t even want my enemies to miss its splendor! (Revelation 4) But preparing for the worst, though, is what I must do now. (John 16:33)
Encouraging words are important; concrete help – a shovel and a trash bag and a hot meal – are more important. The folks in Staten Island were happier to see the Marines than they were with the politicians!
“It was wonderful to see them,” said Jessie Gonzalez, 34, whose home on nearby Patterson Avenue was flooded after the storm.
“They gave us supplies, water and food. It makes us feel like we’re actually getting help now. At least we feel safer with their presence.” (The Marines Have Landed!)
Please consider how you can help; whatever time, talent or resources God enables you to give – give! Here’s a starting point or two:
May God make thee, dear reader, and me as welcome a sight for suffering eyes as those brave and gallant Marines!
Photo REUTERS/Keith Bedford