By Walter B. Fenton
Surely the psalmist was using flood in a metaphorical sense when he cried out,
“Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me” (69:1-2).
But for people from Corpus Christi to Houston and on over to Louisiana, the psalmist’s plea has seemed all too real these past several days.
Our hearts break for families who have lost loved ones to the ravages of Hurricane Harvey’s strong winds and rain inducing floods. From the woman killed by a tree that crashed through her house to the valiant police officer who died trying to report for duty and to the family of six who perished in flood waters as they attempted to flee the disaster, we are left to ponder how fleeting and perilous our lives are amidst the powerful forces of nature. We feel small and helpless. We prepare as best we can, but know our best can easily be overwhelmed.
Thousands of people along the Gulf coast have had to abandon their homes with little more than a duffle bag and the clothes on their backs. They have taken shelter elsewhere, with family and friends, or among strangers in a church or a school gymnasium. They are left wondering when they can return home to assess the damage to their property and all their belongings. They need our thought and prayers, and our resources.
In the midst of the storm we turn to the comfort and reassurance of loved ones and even strangers who are going through the crisis with us. And of course, we rely on our faith that God will be with us even if the flood should overwhelm us.
Hurricane Harvey and its flooding rains struck close to home for the Good News staff. Some of us were able to ride out the storm in our homes, but others were forced to evacuate because of flooding. Some of us have sustained damage to our homes, but so far it is relatively minor compared to the grave challenges others are facing.
The entire Good News staff thanks all of you who sent emails, posted your thoughts and prayers on social media, or called us to note your concern and offer your help. Your words of support were a great encouragement. Thank you very much for your continued thoughts and prayers.
Our attention now turns to assessing the damage, and to helping neighbors and strangers recover from the storm’s devastation. We have been reminded once again of the Apostle Paul’s great words: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Paul was no peddler of a glib theology. He understood that suffering, no matter its source (a vicious crowd or a terrible storm at sea), is a part of this life. But tenaciously, we cling to our rock and redeemer even when the flood threatens to overwhelm us.
Walter Fenton is a United Methodist clergyperson and an analyst at Good News.