And yet, Harvey may have a challenger to some of those records already.
Hurricane Irma is bearing down on Florida. A category 5 storm, It's already decimated the Caribbeans, leaving at least 22 dead. It is expected to hit landfall late tonight in the USA, possibly still as a category 5 storm. Or, "at best", it will be a category 4 storm. By comparison, Hurricane Sandy was a category 2 storm as it approached New Jersey. By the time it hit the cold Northern air just before landfall, it wasn't even classified as a hurricane.
Hurricane Irma is poised to be very, very fierce. It will be deadly and destructive. It will make history.
As a reporter from ABC news puts it: "Whenever man and mother nature meet, it's a mismatch."
But that's the point, do we want to face this storm alone? We are hopelessly outmatched. We can't stop the storm. All we can do is predict Irma's destruction, flee from it, and come back to clean up the devastation when it's run its course. Without a hope of some higher force than the forces of nature--without hope of the supernatural--we are left to pick up the pieces, despondent and despairing.
But there is hope! Hope in a God who is mightier than any storm, hope in the God who created the universe with nothing but the breath of his mouth. As Psalm 93:4 reassures us:
More than the sounds of many waters, than the mighty breakers of the sea, The Lord on high is mighty.
With God, we can face any trial or storm with confidence, trusting that He has a grander plan than ours, even in the storm. Yes, He could protect us from all storms, but in the end, do you think that would be best for us? We are fickle, wandering people. So often we turn from God in seasons of comfort and pleasure to our own desires and our own gods. Maybe God is orchestrating natural disasters in our nation to catch our attention again. Maybe He loves us enough to give us some hard discipline so that we might fall on our knees, repent of our self-serving, self-sufficient ways, and humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God. Can these trials strengthen our faith? Will our faith not only endure, but grow stronger through these storms?
I'm reminded of our ultimate example, Jesus, and how He stood up to the intense personal storm He faced right before His death. Jesus's last hours were a non-stop hurricane of intense drama and tragedy.An angry mob encircled Him; His disciples betrayed, denied, and abandoned Him; mock courts condemned Him; blindfolded, they beat Him; A spineless leader didn't have the guts to release Him; Romans whipped and degraded Him; crowds taunted Him even as He hung on the cross! And yet, through it all, Jesus remained utterly calm. You see, He trusted the Father's will and had completely submitted Himself to it. Jesus was the calm eye of the storm while the powerful forces of bitter rage and injustice swirled around him--and ultimately destroyed him, for three days at least.
Let me be clear, Jesus could have at any time stopped the storm. In fact, we catch a glimpse of this in John 18 where Jesus merely utters "I AM" and the mob sent to arrest Him are blown back to the ground. Tens of thousands of angels waited for the Lord to but utter the command, and they would have completely obliterated the opposition! But yet Jesus walked through the storm, knowing that the Father had a better plan, and look at what amazing good is in the world because of it!
We may be called to walk through these storms, but there is a way to walk through them with calm confidence. Hurricane Irma is still coming. We can't override God's will and stop it, but what we can do is put our trust in God. Let's humble ourselves, confessing all our anxious thoughts to Him. Let's repent and make Him the Lord of our lives! And please, join me in prayer for everyone in the path of the storm. Let us pray that these storms will turn our nation back to the only God who can save us, so that we can again be a nation who says fullheartedly, "In God We Trust."
Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You, and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge. Until destruction passes by. I will cry to God most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.