In the past several months, I have heard numerous conversations about the seemingly unusual amount of destruction going on in just our part of the world. We’ve had five hurricanes make landfall this year (thankfully, Nate was not all that extreme). There was a significant earthquake in Mexico in late summer. As I write this, the wine country of California is burning up in uncontrolled fires. On top of all this, earlier this month a madman killed 59 people and wounded more than 500.
Of course, people are talking about this. The humanitarian need is enormous. Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico will be cleaning up for years. There is no shortage of opportunity to help, and people have been wonderful about stepping up to do so. But in all the conversations, in all the curious statements of wonder, I have yet to hear anyone encourage us to get on our knees.
Not long ago, when something terrible happened to us, the first thing we would do is go to God in prayer. We had the sense that what was happening was larger than us, and that we needed God’s help to find our way through the difficult moments. And yes, we might even have considered repenting, perhaps even praying the prayer found at the end of Psalm 139:23-24:
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
I hope that we are not so proud or shortsighted to think that in the midst of all the tragedy around us, that we do not need to seek God. Neither am I suggesting that God is vindictive and harms people simply to make some kind of point to us. It is plain to me, however, that this world is bigger than us, the disasters are overwhelming, and we cannot hope to help others without the help of God first.
In this hour of great distress, let us be people of prayer first, humbly seeking the will of God, that our lives would be conformed to God’s will and purposes, and that in our lives, He alone would receive the glory.