Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey and the flooding in Houston are devastating and desperate events. How can we in South Dakota make sense of something so real and heart-breaking? There are four things I can be sure of concerning this catastrophic event.

Job recognized the Lord’s hand in the loss of his children after natural disasters struck. “‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’  In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:21) Whether it is a hurricane and flood in Houston, a blizzard, drought, or hail in South Dakota, a tsunami in the Indian Ocean, or an earthquake in Japan, God is in charge of His world and has control over weather and natural occurrences. He commands the snow to fall and rain to downpour (Job 37:6; Psalm 147:16-17). He shuts in the seas and stays their proud waves (Job 38:8-11). Jesus Himself had power to quiet the wind and waves (Psalm 89:8-9; Mark 4:29). We would do well to recognize His authority and power in these events.

Why do events like this occur? This world is subject to futility and groaning, in hope of future joy and freedom to come (Romans 8:20-23). These natural events and big disasters are signs of God’s judgment and an offer of His mercy and grace. We see judgment and mercy mixed together when these events happen. When a tower fell and killed 18 in the town of Siloam, Jesus declared it was a sign and urged the people, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4-5) For those who died in Houston, their chance to repent is passed; you who are alive must not waste the flooding in Houston, but learn from it today. It is a sign onto you: repent and turn to the Lord while you still have time.

We also learn from this event that life is valuable and fleeting, and we never know when our last day is. What is really important? No one I saw in Houston was trying to carry their big-screen HDTV when they were rescued; no one I saw was searching for a coffee maker. Instead they cried, “Where is my child, where is my parent, what will happen to me?” Let us learn the lesson of valuing life and relationships while there is still time today.

To that end, let us show love and compassion to those who suffer; we will weep with those who weep and support those in need. I encourage you to consider whatever charity or relief effort that is available to you and volunteer or make a donation. Pain, suffering, charity, prayers and love know no boundaries in times of disaster.

The hurricane and flooding in Houston are devastating and desperate events. We can make sense of these real and heart-breaking times by knowing that God is in control, that we may still turn to Him in repentance while we have the chance, that life is valuable, and we can work towards relief and assistance for those in need.