ST. AUGUSTINE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, MORROW, GEORGIA
THE REV. BARRY GRIFFIN, RECTOR
I’ve been away for three Sundays. It was good to get away and it’s good to get back home. When I left three weeks ago things were different. There were no hurricanes on the horizon. Back then the names Harvey, Irma, José and Katia were just names. Today they are hurricanes and one is headed our way. A lot can change in three weeks.
Many people’s lives have changed. Sadly, some have lost their lives. Their loved ones grieve today, and they always will. Some have lost pets. Some have lost most or all of their possessions. Some have lost their homes. Many who once felt secure in this world will never feel that way again.
A lot can change in three weeks. Much can change in a single day or a single moment.
So, as people of faith, how do we make sense of natural disasters? Or is there any sense to be made? Some preachers think so. In my opinion, they take the easy way out. They assign blame. For these preachers, natural disasters are God’s punishment for sin. Obviously, some city or region has done something terribly wrong, and God is very mad about that. So God responds with a hurricane or an earthquake or a fire.
Is that the God you worship? I hope not. But if you do, watch out. Because sooner or later some misfortune, something you do not deserve, will surely come your way. Because that’s life. That’s how things work in this world.
Why do things work that way? Why do people of good will suffer? We do not know. Many wise people have tried to explain, and all of them have failed. Maybe we will understand in the next world, but in this world I think we will not. Many things happen that cannot be explained or reasoned away. That’s just life.
Now, everyone makes bad decisions, and our bad decisions result in bad consequences. We do pay a price for the bad choices we make. And that makes sense.
But natural disasters make no sense. They just happen. There’s no blame to be assigned. There’s just clean-up to do. When nature disrupts, we help each other. It’s as simple as that. Each one of us who is able needs to respond in some way. Help your neighbor and some day a neighbor will help you.
One thing about a hurricane: it reveals our priorities. When a hurricane comes your way you suddenly figure out what matters. You understand what is essential in your life, maybe for the first time in your life.
Imagine this. In a day or two, Hurricane Irma changes course. It’s coming your way, and it’s category five. Suddenly, you must evacuate. It’s now or never. Leave or die.
As you leave your home, what will you take with you? What matters most?
Loved ones and pets aside, what could you not leave behind? What is essential for you?
Think about that this week. As the rain comes down, let your mind wander.
What would I take?
What matters most?
What cannot be replaced?
It’s a dangerous world we live in. And God has not promised to protect us from danger. God has promised to sustain us no matter what; to be with us always, even unto death.
God’s love is tremendous. It’s bigger than any hurricane or any natural disaster.
So we take precautions. When danger comes our way, we are prudent. We make informed decisions. We pray. We help those who suffer. And we do not blame God. We understand that the world we live in is not secure. Tragedies happen.
And we remember that God is always with us, even to the end.
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