This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
It is of great relief no charlatan has rushed in front of a camera and breathlessly announced Hurricane Harvey is the result of God’s judgement on this or that. We can’t know the mind of God, and being the creature not the creator we have absolutely no right to pretend we do.
What we do know and what we have a right to discuss is what we’re taught in scripture. We are taught that we live in a fallen world corrupted by sin, and as a result life can be very hard and painful. What we aren’t taught is God intends only health, wealth and happiness for His elect.
We are also taught our Heavenly Father allows trials and tribulations to be visited upon His elect for a myriad of reasons. Some of those are salvation. sanctification, and discipline, but most importantly simply for His glory. And that glory is manifest in the terror of the storm, it is manifest in the faith of those who are suffering, and also in the responses of love in action by His people throughout the Gulf.
There are those who have lost most, if not all of that is dear to them, and they have become unmoored through loss of their homes, vehicles and jobs. They wonder where the relief will come from, and can’t understand why. Doubting and frightened beyond belief, trying to figure out how to provide for spouses and children. There are those who have suffered loss of family and friends, whose pain will not soon dissipate.
There are those who lie awake in the dark of the night, beseeching their Father in Heaven to provide and for an answer. Those who fervently meditate upon the 23rd Psalm, knowing they are being led through the darkest of valleys, yet knowing His rod and staff will protect. These are now being served. For many, this is a new experience. They’ve been cast into a humbling role of without, reliant upon the loving and charitable acts of strangers. They are walking by faith, having precious little choice in the matter. These faithful are the embodiment of the Hall of Fame chapter in Hebrews. Chapter 11. Faith being the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Others were tortured and did not accept deliverance, so that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trials of mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered around in sheepskins and goatskins, while destitute, afflicted, and tormented. 38 The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. Hebrews 11:35-38
This is not the first nor the last of travails visited upon God’ s people. The pain and heartache is very real. It can’t be glossed over with a trite uncaring “all things work together for good…”. It is both immediate and future, casting a cloud of despair and terrifying the soul. Nothing written about hope, love, or kindness will lessen the hurt.
Then there are the serving, the servants, those who are acting out real love for their neighbor. They risk their lives plunging into water to save a soul, not caring the race, the color, the religion or the creed. They give of their time, money, and possessions. Often giving until it hurts. Churches, countless churches raising money, receiving donations, organizing volunteers, and praying without ceasing.
JJ Watt starts off wanting to raise $200, 000 in order to provide essentials to those in need. His efforts will surpass $20 million any moment now if it hasn’t already. Jim McIngvale, “Mattress Mack – Save you Money!!” opens up his two stores and provides every surface available for those without a place to live. Every couch, every bed, every mattress, brand new but being used to comfort and provide for those in need.
And while these two are very visible, there are thousands who make up the invisible army of God. Loving and serving simply because God loved them and give His only Son for their salvation. These are being also being strengthened and sanctified, seeing with every act of kindness, God’s faithfulness manifested to those in need. And yes, being humbled as well, knowing but for the grace of God, this could have happened to them.
Last night as I was going over this article in my mind, one of my favorite songs kept running through my mind. I think this says it all.
I don’t know about tomorrow;
It may bring me poverty.
But the one who feeds the sparrow,
Is the one who stands by me.
And the path that be my portion
May be through the flame or flood;
But His presence goes before me
And I’m covered with His blood.
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand…