“How then can I dispute with him?
How can I find words to argue with him?
Though I were innocent, I could not answer him;
I could only plead with my Judge for mercy.
Even if I summoned him and he responded,
I do not believe he would give me a hearing.
He would crush me with a storm
and multiply my wounds for no reason.
He would not let me catch my breath
but would overwhelm me with misery.
- Job 9:14-18
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm:
“Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
- Job 40:6-7
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
- Ephesians 2:8-10
This is going to be an unusual post. I am writing this near the time that a strong tropical storm named Fred is about to hit the Florida panhandle. The next storm, tropical depression Grace, has gone through Hispaniola and is on its way toward the Gulf of Mexico. I intend to add a personal note as the conditions of the two storms change, and publish it next week.
But why go through that trouble? My best friend over the past 5-6 years was my Sunday school teacher. His name? Fred. He was someone that was a true friend. If you called him for a favor, it seemed he was knocking on your door before the phone quit ringing. He was indeed a true friend. He passed away a little over a year ago. I have been “filling in as the Sunday school teacher”, as I promised, “until he returns,” which will not happen in this life. Then again, I will have to step down if we move to Tennessee.
With a friend like that, listening to the weather report and hearing what kind of bad things Fred will do next has caused me to wince each time I hear it. I have prayed for his wife, hoping she just avoids the weather report for a while.
But then, we have a granddaughter with a middle name of Grace, and the concept of Jesus saving us by Grace is the first thing that I think of when those same meteorologists are talking about the next storm after Fred.
There was a horrible earthquake in Haiti with hundreds upon hundreds of deaths (latest report at over 1400) associated with the earthquake. It hit Haiti just after Fred had left. There was only a couple of days to adjust shelters and hospitals, overcrowded by the earthquake victims, before Grace dumped wind and rain upon them, many patients in tents.
I wept and prayed for those people. My wife’s and my days of helping on such ventures is behind us. But I prayed that God’s Grace would spare those who were suffering.
From an early age, I was always fascinated by tropical storms. With my master’s degree emphasis in heat transfer and fluid dynamics, I am still fascinated by the storms, even more so with the math that goes into the computer models that predict the intensity and direction of the storm. Hey, I used to make those calculations long hand, as they once said.
But when storms get near where people are, I am very much aware of the devastation that a storm of that type may cause.
I pray that Fred’s and Grace’s impacts are minimal.
The next day: Fred was over Atlanta by mid-morning, mostly dumping a lot of rain. With hurricanes, there is the chance for short spin-up tornadoes, but none have been reported to have caused damage. Some flooding occurred along the Florida coast. Rain is being drawn into the Charleston, SC area, and flooding is expected in Appalachia. When Fred hit, it was a few miles per hour shy of being a hurricane. It might be possible that a ground mounted anemometer will cause the officials to upgrade it to hurricane status. As for Grace, it is south of Haiti and moving very slowly. This is bad news in that the rain and wind are hampering earthquake recovery efforts, especially getting earthquake injured victims to safe hospital care. Grace had been a tropical depression, but has strengthened to a storm, possibly hitting the Yucatan as a hurricane.
Two days after Fred landed: Fred reached Pennsylvania mid-morning. There has been flash flooding. One death has been attributed to the storm – an overturned vehicle on a flooded road in Florida. Grace has dumped a lot of water on Haiti, but is now beyond Haiti, attaining hurricane status while over the Cayman Islands. If the tracking is accurate, it will hit the northern part of the Yucatan and continue toward Mexico, heading almost perfectly due west.
Three days after Fred landed: What is left of Fred will probably leave the coast today after disrupting things in Massachusetts. No more deaths have been reported, but there are people missing due to flooding in North Carolina. Reports say that Hurricane Grace is pounding the Yucatan. A second landfall is expected between Tampico and Veracruz.
Neither of these storms was outstandingly destructive, but they were not kind and gentle and caring like my friend. I might say that Grace showed no grace or mercy, but the storm could have gotten stronger. It has simply been a weird situation that did not feel right, and in a few years, it could be repeated when these names come back in the rotation.
I know. Hurricanes are given names and to the hurricane naming group, these are just names, and maybe that is where our problem lies. Maybe, just maybe, the storms keep getting worse because we, as a collective group of people, are ignoring God, and God’s Grace.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.