As Hurricane Irma bore down on my brother and his family over the weekend, I was watching television coverage of the storm nonstop. I heard a commentator reporting from Florida make the perceptive statement, “The worst in Mother Nature often brings out the best in human nature.”
He was right.
The damage from this historic disaster is continuing. As of this morning, at least forty-two people have died because of the storm. Jacksonville, Florida, has experienced record floods. A flash flood emergency has been declared in Charleston, South Carolina. About 6.5 million people in Florida are without power.
But there is remarkable good news in the news.
The New York Times is reporting on sacrificial ways Christians are serving each other and their communities after Hurricane Harvey. One example is Rabbi Michael Vowell, a Messianic Jew (a Jew who accepts Jesus as his Messiah). According to the Times, he came to faith in Christ as a young man “as part of his escape from drug abuse and dealing.”
How does he deal with faith questions related to Hurricane Harvey? “My theology is that if I can see God moving through people, neighbors helping neighbors, I can shelve the bigger question of why is this happening,” he said. “That there are still people caring for each other is evidence enough that God is in this world.”
Natural disasters teach us what matters most. My brother texted me Sunday night from Florida: “As we helped neighbors board up to leave, we noticed how they all valued life over possessions. We packed everything that really mattered to us in two cars when we evacuated, not knowing if we’d have a home to go back to. Beth [his wife] said, ‘We may lose our house, but not our home.'”
Such faith in fearful times is a powerful testimony.
According to the Washington Post, anxiety has replaced depression as the most common mental health concern for American college students. Citing the escalating conflict with North Korea along with recent wildfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes, the article notes: “Fear is in the water these days, spread with a new and viral efficiency on social media into everyone’s home and everyone’s pockets at all hours, every day.”
But God’s people can say with David, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3). We can join the righteous man who “is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord” (Psalm 112:7). And our faith will glorify our Father and draw our frightened culture to him.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I’ll rest from my labor. But today I have work to do.” So do you.
NOTE: North Texas Giving Day is this Thursday. This year’s event comes while many, including my wife and I, are already giving to help those recovering from recent disasters. And yet this is a critical day for Denison Forum—we receive nearly 20 percent of our annual support from those who participate in this day of giving.
For the first time, North Texas Giving Day is allowing donors to schedule their gifts prior to the giving date of September 14. By clicking here, you can schedule your gift today, knowing that it will transact on Thursday. Extremely generous donors have already pledged a matching gift of $100,000. Every gift (including scheduled donations) will be matched dollar for dollar.
Thank you for praying for my family and so many others affected by recent disasters. Thank you for your wonderful generosity in supporting those in need. And thank you for helping Denison Forum continue to share God’s word on the critical issues of our day. It is an honor to serve our Lord with you.
Jim Denison, Ph.D., speaks and writes on cultural and contemporary issues. He produces a daily column which is distributed to more than 113,000 subscribers in 203 countries. He also writes for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Post, Common Call, and other publications.