“Storm of a lifetime” threatens 10 million people

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Normally, Apple’s fall launch of a new iPhone and other products would be leading the news. The feature that helps users limit their iPhone use is getting special attention along with some ridicule.

However, today is not a normal day.

A National Weather Service meteorologist calls Hurricane Florence the “storm of a lifetime” for portions of the Carolina coast. He is warning of “the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge, and inland flooding with this storm.” More than ten million people are under storm watches and warnings this morning.

Yesterday we discussed the theological implications of natural disasters like Florence. Today, let’s turn to practical biblical principles. The storm calls on us to respond in two significant ways.

God’s call to solidarity

As I was watching the news coverage of Florence yesterday, the thought occurred to me: I’m not monitoring this crisis as though someone I love is experiencing it. If members of my family lived on the Carolina coast, I would be much more emotionally engaged in this unfolding tragedy.

Most of us are the same way. We’re concerned for those who experience a disaster, then we go about our day, subconsciously grateful that this isn’t happening to us. In the case of Florence, we might even congratulate ourselves for not living in an area susceptible to hurricanes (though inland regions deal with tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, mudslides, and other natural disasters).

So let’s shift the narrative. If you had family living in the path of the storm, how would you feel? The fact is, you do.

We are all descended from the same Edenic parents, all members of the same human race. If you live in America, you’re part of the “United” States.

In addition, you likely have family or friends who have family or friends in the path of the storm. It doesn’t take much imagination to assume that, out of the 139,000-plus readers of this Daily Article, many are directly affected by this looming disaster.

One of my sons married into a family with relatives living in North Carolina. As a result, I now have family members that will be directly impacted by the storm. If the storm had struck ten years ago, it would have affected people who are now in my family. Only God knows if people in the path of Florence will be related to you one day.

God’s word calls us to share his love with all those in need whether we know them personally or not. We are to “be kind to one another” and “tenderhearted” (Ephesians 4:32), seeking ways to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) as we “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

What does godly compassion look like in action?

God’s call to sacrifice

Solidarity with those who are suffering leads to sacrifice on their behalf. The greater our solidarity, the greater our willingness to suffer for them. Consider three imperatives.

Pray

Rees Howells was a Welsh minister and great prayer warrior. During the dark days of World War II in England, he felt compelled by God to organize a “company” to pray with him for the nation. They prayed day and night from May 16-30, 1940, before the pending invasion of England by the Nazis.

On September 15, the Battle of the Air came to its climax as the German air raids on London peaked and the British had no air reserves left. The Luftwaffe was free to take Britain, when they inexplicably turned and left for home. But their actions were not inexplicable: Rees Howells and his prayer partners had been on their knees, day in and day out for the week before.

The commander-in-chief of the British Fighter Command later said, “At the end of the battle one had the sort of feeling that there had been some special divine intervention to alter some sequence of events which would otherwise have occurred.”

Scripture calls us to “continue steadfastly in prayer” (Colossians 4:2). Samuel considered it a “sin against the Lord” to cease intercession for his people (1 Samuel 12:23). Pray for God’s protection for those in the path of the storm, for emergency responders to be safe and effective, and for pastors and churches as they minister to those in crisis.

Give

C. S. Lewis, when asked how much we should give to charity, replied: “I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare” (Mere Christianity).

We can donate to a variety of organizations supporting those facing Hurricane Florence. My wife and I are giving through Texas Baptist Men, a remarkable ministry that is now on the ground on the Carolina coast, meeting physical and spiritual needs for those affected by the storm. The American Red Cross is also responding to this disaster, as are other organizations.

Pray about how much the Lord would have you give to help those in crisis.

Go

The Lord has a kingdom assignment for each of us today. Yours may be to make the sacrifice of time and service to be his hands and feet for someone in the path of Florence.

On the seventeenth anniversary of 9/11, Time magazine republished an essay written by Nancy Gibbs three days after the terrorists attacked us. She noted: “On a normal day, we value heroism because it is so rare. On Sept. 11, we valued heroism because it was everywhere.”

Now it’s our turn.