It has been one week since Hurricane Irene blew through my home town. Some 30+ people in North Carolina lost their lives during the storm. And, the east coast is still cleaning up and recovering from the aftermath.
My street was without power for about 5 days. It was scorching hot and miserable. But, we were all alive, and no major property damage to speak of on my street. And when the power finally came back on, wow, air conditioning never felt so good! Storms have a way of generating thankfulness in our hearts.
Funny thing (or actually not so funny), I spent more time talking with my neighbors in the last week than I have in quite a while. No TVs, no internet, not even any lights. In other words, no distractions. Just neighbors trying to help one another through a rough spot. My family took cold water in ice chests to several houses on our street. And, my next door neighbor offered to use his backhoe and dumptruck to haul off our large limbs and trees.
It struck me after a few days of seeing neighbors come alongside neighbors, and gathering in front yards to just joke and poke fun at the situation to relieve some tension – storms have a way of reminding us of what really matters.
Matthew wrote as the Holy Spirit of God carried his pen along:
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (9:35-36).
It makes me sad that I need God to bring a storm into my life to make me more like Jesus. Thankfulness is far too easily lost when all is well. The people around us are far too easily lost in our daily techno-distracted shuffle. So, here’s praying a prayer of gratitude for the spiritual reminders God brought this past week via Irene.
Thank you, sovereign Lord, for sending storms into our lives to conform us to the image of Your Son. May my heart rejoice in times of ease and in times of hardship, knowing that You are still determined to do whatever it takes to kill off the things in my heart and life that do not image Jesus Christ. Help me remember these lessons, and please continue to show the hurting people around me mercy. Make me a channel of Your mercy, as I seek grace to see people as You do. For Jesus’ glory, amen.