Hurricane Harvey 2017 (AP photo)Why do bad things happen? How should we pray in the face of tragedy? If you haven't heard, Hurricane Harvey has been wrecking destruction on the Gulf Coast. My sister and her family live in Houston. I got word Sunday that my sister (a flight attendant) was unable to fly home from Rio. The Houston airport was closed until Thursday or Friday while 40 inches of rain were supposed to fall over the next four days. At the time, we had no word on how my brother-in-law, youngest niece, and nephew were doing in northern Houston. Needless to say, it was a nerve-wracking few hours until we learned their house was on high ground and stocked with food and water. Others were and continue to be not as fortunate. I know that the storm is not over. I also know that many families and individuals have been displaced and even lost all they had. Many rescue and aid crews are already supporting the local authorities, providing invaluable service to the afflicted. Would you please join me in praying for those touched by Hurricane Harvey? Remember also those who live elsewhere but have loved ones in the area. Lord, please be with the families and individuals affected by Hurricane Harvey. Provide for their physical needs and for their safety as well as for their emotional and spiritual needs in this time of crisis. Keep the rescue workers, aid workers, and clean-up crews safe. Give wisdom and clear direction to those making decisions for how to continue responding to this crisis Lord, we confess that we do not understand tragedies like this. We know this was never part of Your perfect plan (Genesis 1:1-2:3). Even so, clearly show us Your merciful, gracious, and loving hand in the midst of this crisis. I know people are asking right now "Where was God?" You are a good God and we know You did not cause this. We also know that You promise never to leave or forsake us, so You are right there, even in the midst of this horrible tragedy. Joshua knew from the beginning that he faced what seemed to be unconquerable foes, but You told him not to fear because You would be with him (Joshua 1). Help us to be strong and courageous because we too know You are with us, even in the face of seemingly impossible situations. We pray with David the words of Psalm 40. Psalm 40 (NIRV) For the director of music. A psalm of David. 1 I was patient while I waited for the Lord. He turned to me and heard my cry for help. 2 I was sliding down into the pit of death, and he pulled me out. He brought me up out of the mud and dirt. He set my feet on a rock. He gave me a firm place to stand on. 3 He gave me a new song to sing. It is a hymn of praise to our God. Many people will see and have respect for the Lord. They will put their trust in him. 4 Blessed is the person who trusts in the Lord. They don’t trust in proud people. Those proud people worship statues of gods. 5 Lord my God, no one can compare with you. You have done many wonderful things. You have planned to do these things for us. There are too many of them for me to talk about. 6 You didn’t want sacrifices and offerings. You didn’t require burnt offerings and sin offerings. You opened my ears so that I could hear you and obey you. 7 Then I said, “Here I am. It is written about me in the book. 8 My God, I have come to do what you want. Your law is in my heart.” 9 I have told the whole community of those who worship you. I have told them what you have done to save me. Lord, you know that I haven’t kept quiet. 10 I haven’t kept to myself that what you did for me was right. I have spoken about how faithful you were when you saved me. I haven’t hidden your love and your faithfulness from the whole community. 11 Lord, don’t hold back your mercy from me. May your love and faithfulness always keep me safe. 12 There are more troubles all around me than I can count. My sins have caught up with me, and I can’t see any longer. My sins are more than the hairs of my head. I have lost all hope. 13 Lord, please save me. Lord, come quickly to help me. 14 Let all those who are trying to kill me be put to shame. Let them lose their way. Let all those who want to destroy me be turned back in shame. 15 Some people make fun of me. Let them be shocked when their plans fail. 16 But let all those who seek you be joyful and glad because of what you have done. Let those who count on you to save them always say, “The Lord is great!” 17 But I am poor and needy. May the Lord be concerned about me. You are the God who helps me and saves me. You are my God, so don’t wait any longer. Amen. Amen. Let it be. Amen.
- Faith in Hard Times by Roger Bailey
- How to Minister to the Grieving by Nancy Ruth