|I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard the word ‘catastrophic’ these last several days, specifically related to the imminent flooding that’s expected to begin today and persist over the coming days, starting on the NC/SC coastline. While Hurricane Florence has weakened over the last 24 hours, forecasters, state and local officials, emergency responders, and disaster response organizations are primarily concerned about the slow, grueling path the storm is expected to take; a path that will likely cause levels of flooding in parts of eastern (and now, western) North Carolina that could shatter records. All of this has the potential to be devastating.|
|How Should We Respond?|
There is no surprise that anytime a storm of this type threatens our area and our own well-being, we tend to think of ourselves first. Keeping ourselves, our families and our neighbors safe should be a priority. That just seems to be common sense. However, it’s equally just as easy to limit our concern for what is right in front of us.
With all of the attention this storm has been getting, combined with remembrances of the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks this week, perhaps some of us are dealing with what we’ve referred to in the past as compassion fatigue. It refers to a stoicism that serves as a natural defense to overwhelming stress. It’s a hardening of the self to the deep pain and suffering around us, resigning the self from taking action or bearing the burden of proactive engagement due to our inability to prevent tragedy in the broken world we live in.
However, for God’s people, withholding or limiting compassion is simply not an option.
To take it a step further, when storms approach and strike, doing nothing absolutely isn’t an option for God’s people.
So, what do we do, especially when it feels like there is so little we cando? What do we do when we can’t help but wain in our compassion at times? Without using this verse out of context, I love what James 4:6 tells us:
But he gives us more grace.
In other words, when we come to the limits of our grace, God is a limitless resource that always has more to give us. It is He that is working in us to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose. (Phil. 2:13). So what we do, first, is to ask for and trust in His grace, a grace that continues to expand the capacity of our hearts to love, care for and respond.
With James 4:6 laying the foundation for answering the question, what should we do?, here are three suggestions for what we can be doing today:Pray. In the same passage, James makes clear, “you do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4:2). Pray for those facing danger, who may suffer loss, who are anxious and fearful today. Ask for God’s mercy. As you do, many of us know people who find themselves in the immediate path of this storm, whose lives and homes will inevitably be affected. However, even if you don’t know someone in parts of eastern NC and SC specifically, ask God to help you pray as if you do. It is almost guaranteed that it will change how you pray.
Give. As we have done in the past, we will most likely be directing our financial resources toward disaster relief efforts in the coming days. Please know that the more we give as a church, the more generous we are able to give to organizations and partners such as Samaritan’s Purse and the American Red Cross, both of whom will be spearheading efforts in the coming days.
Go. Of course, our compassion must go beyond our financial giving. Already, there are calls and opportunities to begin organizing volunteers to go and serve. We will be providing more information about any church-sponsored trips. In the meantime, as we’ve specifically encouraged recently following our #LoveSalisbury event, don’t wait on us. Our friends at Samaritan’s Purse are already accepting volunteer inquiries HERE. For more information details, we encourage you to reach out to our Missions Team.
Many of you may not be aware, but Life Church is a designated Lighthouse Church for Samaritan’s Purse. Although we do not anticipate the need for our church to serve in this capacity in light of this event (anticipating needs will be greater elsewhere), we are proud to be ready to make our resources available should the need ever arise.
May we find ourselves relying on the God of Grace today to give us more and more grace so that we might prove to be faithful agents of grace during such times.