As I watch the news coverage of the hurricane/flood devastation, I’m reminded of how comfortable I am. I sat in the air conditioned break room today and watched the CNN coverage as I ate lunch, and I felt grossly privileged. I know that tomorrow hasn’t been given to me yet, but I also know it is very likely that tomorrow will be like any other day – well, any other Sunday, in this case. I will wake up in my bed, my wife will be there, and my son will be sleeping in his room across the hall. We will get up and take hot showers; we will give our son a bath and giggle as he splashes around in the water. We’ll get our things together and go to church, worship God freely in a safe environment, loiter in friendly conversation with the rest of the congregation, and then we’ll have lunch. We will be safe and dry, surrounded by all the worldly comforts I am so used to that I almost forget.
I can lose all my blessings and privileges in a moment. The circumstances of my life can change at any time, without warning, and I could be left in a desperate situation where even my most basic needs cannot be met. As I watch the news coverage of the gulf coast, I see the faces of people in that situation. They are hungry, thirsty, demoralized, exhausted. For days, many searched in vain for even a hint of assurance that help was on the way, and they found none. With civil order lost and all communication cut off, the victims of hurricane Katrina looked at a wasteland that used to be their home. How does one retain hope & faith in these circumstances?
I’m not writing this to cite Scripture about faith, or to expound on finding joy and strength in the most desperate times. I am wondering myself how able I would be to hold onto my joy in the Lord if faced with these circumstances. Would my faith crumble if my home and loved ones were swept away? Would my resolve fail while rescue teams abandoned me to retreat from sniper fire? Would an eternity with Christ be at the front of my thoughts while my neighbors perished before my eyes? I want to answer these questions as a Christian should – I would stand firm; I would be consumed with joy in the Lord no matter what my losses. But after all, I am just a man – flawed, sinful, and blind. In such circumstances, I would need my faith, but even more, I’d need the prayers of others. I would need others to lift me up, to petition the Lord on my behalf, asking Him to reveal Himself to me, to assure me, to strengthen me, because I would not be able to assure or strengthen myself. So that is my prayer for the victims of this disaster – that God would bless them with strength and a perseverance they never imagined possible; that God’s glory would be revealed in the selfless and heroic deeds of our neighbors; that the world will display a Christ-like attitude toward those who suffer. I pray that people will contribute generously to the organizations that will help the survivors, but most of all, I pray that others will pray, for even the poorest among us can offer this most valuable deed.