This week Dorian became one of the top five hurricanes in history to strike land in the Atlantic Ocean. We are still learning of the devastation of this Category 5 storm that had sustained winds of 185mph. The hardest hit were the Grand Bahamas and Abaco Islands. And it’s not finished as it makes landfall in the US.
Thinking of the damage and threat of a storm like this makes me appreciate the way biblical people feared the sea. The sea represented the chaotic forces of life beyond the control of humans. In an even darker way the sea represented evil. It wasn’t just a storm the disciples feared when Jesus sent them in a boat across the lake one night, it was the forces of evil. No wonder the author of the Book of Revelation paints a picture of heaven and says, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” (Rev.21:1) I suppose if you’ve ever lived through a hurricane it would be heavenly not to have that fear again.
Storms feel like God’s absence. And yet the Bible tells how God appeared in storms. God used a storm to get Jonah’s attention. Jesus calmed a storm and gave the disciples faith. God spoke to Job through a storm. It’s a biblical dichotomy. Storms feel like the absence of God while containing the presence of God. What are we to make of it? Perhaps the Bible is teaching us that the damaging, threatening forces of life cannot obstruct God’s presence. Even in the reality of events that are not God’s desire, God’s presence and hope can be felt. Not even storms can keep God from working. How might God work through Dorian?
Here is a great article that shares what the United Methodist Church is doing in the Bahamas. In that article is a link to make gifts through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), one of the most highly recommended relief organizations by the United Nations. If you want to make a gift I encourage you to donate to St. Luke’s with a memo note for hurricane relief. That way we can keep a tab on the giving that comes from St. Luke’s. Certainly this is an important way God turns a storm from being a fearsome event into an experience of God’s presence and hope. Every experience of evil is an opportunity for people of faith to demonstrate hope. Thanks in advance for the hope you will show.