For the past 20 years or so, when I have heard someone say, "Houston," my mind has immediately continued with "we have a problem" because Tom Hanks brought Jim Lovell's (slightly altered) line to life in the movie Apollo 13. Harvey (no invisible rabbit here) has changed my thinking over the past couple weeks, as I have viewed the devastation it has left in its path and as I hear this morning that 70 lives have been lost. Without Harvey, we might have seen these words as a headline in the sports section of the Free Press last Friday.
But Hurricane Harvey did hit land (more than once), and now Irma is knocking at Florida's door. What is a person to think and do? As in all situations, we turn to God's Word for wisdom and guidance.
"First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all." (1 Timothy 2.1-6)
Then, remembering that "just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead," (James 2.26) it is proper to follow in the footsteps of the ancient Macedonian churches who, "according to their ability and even beyond their ability, of their own accord, begged earnestly for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints, and not just as hoped. Instead, they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to" those in need (2 Corinthians 8.3-5).
Unfortunately - but not surprisingly - some, instead of focusing upon the healthy actions above, have responded with two rather unhealthy reactions. Some have blamed God (I do not care who you are blaming for what, it is a waste of energy, at best). Others have talked about this being a sign of the end of the world (Have you heard? "You yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. When they say, 'Peace and security,' then sudden destruction will come upon them. ... Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing." 1 Thessalonians 5.2,3,11) In my book, healthy means helpful ... and unhealthy means harmful.
Whether we are talking about hurricanes down south, or stormy days in our own personal lives, the thoughts shared above might best be summarized with "Pay careful attention, then, to how you live - not as unwise people but as wise - making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So, don't be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. And don't get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ" (Ephesians 5.15-21).
If you are moved to make a donation toward Hurricane Harvey relief, I recommend two Lutheran charities where 100% of your gift will go toward relief (administrative costs are covered by their general funds): Lutheran Church Charities (http://www.lutheranchurchcharities.org/) or the Texas District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (https://txlcms.org/how-can-i-help-hurricane-harvey/). The link to the American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/) is also recommended.