Hurricane Matthew wreaked terrible havoc through the Caribbean, and is bearing down on Florida and the Southeastern Atlantic coast with 140mph winds and torrential rain as I write this. The death toll in the storm’s wake is already staggering and more than 12 million people are bracing for the impact or have fled their homes. Those of us watching from a distance, anxiously seeking news of strangers and loved ones, feel helpless.
I’m reminded of something a friend of mine wrote after Hurricane Isaac:
Hurricanes can destroy much more than property; they can destroy our confidence. They blow across our sense of security, causing us to realize that so much of what we count on as secure can be damaged or lost in a few moments…
And indeed, there are countless ways we are reminded that we are not in control as much as we would like. All of us seek ways to alleviate the uncertainty of life, clinging to whatever might help us manage our deep feeling of insecurity in the face of tragedy, loss and devastation.
How do we bear up under the reality of destruction and loss, the very real messes that can and do upend our lives, whether the chaos is very personal or global? Deep down we know it isn’t a matter of ‘if,’ it is a matter of when. Nothing inoculates us from suffering some tragedy, some loss. We may want a sunny side God–where faith is exchanged for a magic shield, promising divine protection from hurt and pain. Like it or not, that’s not what God offers.
God doesn’t promise to make life perfect nor even easy. God’s promise is to be with us always, even unto the end of the age. In Jesus, God meets us right where we are, in the chaos of our lives, in the ordinariness of life and of death. Made in God’s image, we are called to be with one another. Sometimes it takes chaos for us to remember this truth. In the midst of destruction, we see incredible evidence of tangible love made real for others–extraordinary acts of courage to the smallest ordinary acts of kindness. Through the outpouring of prayer, of physical and emotional support, and of financial contributions, we affirm the real power of presence.
These promises are our stronghold in the face of uncertainty. Even in the face of hurricanes. Even in the aftermath. The antidote for our insecurity is leaning into the presence of God by being present with each and for each other, remembering the power of love to bring life out of death. The more we embrace these promises, the more our helplessness recedes. And it makes all the difference.
Always out of death comes resurrection. Even when it is impossible to see in the moment, in the deep darkness of a living hell, the power of love bringing life out of death is at work. It is revealed in the amazing arc of scripture and lived out again and again in our lives today. Amen. Alleluia.
In addition to holding in prayer all those affected by the hurricane, you can join me offering your financial presence here by supporting Episcopal Relief and Development efforts on the ground in the places that need it most.
Hope to see you Sunday!