Hurricane Harvey.NASA image.wikimedia commons
Category 4 Hurricane Harvey inundated parts of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana last week with strong winds and over 20 trillion gallons of water – enough to fill up Lake Michigan. And the rain just kept coming as Harvey parked itself on top of them.
It wouldn’t quit. It never let up. It kept dumping more and more water down on their heads and towns and ranches and cities and highways. On everything.
Many hurting parents have felt like they did.
Relentlessly beaten down. Devastated. The pain and heartache won’t quit coming. Rebellion, angst, disrespect, and withdrawal. Alcohol, weed, harder drugs, mental health issues, arrests, self-injury, incarcerations, gender confusion, porn, pregnancies, and on and on.
Harvey’s been labeled the worst recorded storm in U.S. history and the second most costly. The wreckage and damage are said to be worse than Hurricane Katrina or Andrew. This one brought flooding in epic proportions leaving over 311 thousand people stranded or displaced. People wonder if they’ll ever recover or be the same again?
Hurting parents wonder the same things.
We don’t have any answers or promises, either.
On Friday, weather broadcasters predicted the worst was still to come. Scared, worried and shocked men, women, children, and their pet dogs, fled for higher ground. No one could have imagined what their lives would look like today. Neither could many of us–not in our wildest dreams.
Our child brought much wreckage into our lives and great expense–financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
We’re not sure if we’re past the worst of it. We wonder what’s next? Like those affected by Harvey, we’re scared, worried, and shocked. Is this really our lives?
The massive losses from Harvey are overwhelming. Our losses are great, too. We’ve lost the hopes and dreams we had for our child.
We’ve lost the kind of relationship we thought we’d have with them and some of us have lost friends. Sometimes people can’t handle our pain–it’s too much–and so they fade away. We’re hurt, angry, discouraged, and isolated. It’s easy for the bitter roots of negativism and self-pity to take hold. They can make us more miserable than we already are.
The other evening I was watching news coverage about the hurricane, when I saw a moving interview with a dad and his young son. They were soaked, holding hands while they walked down the middle of the road in the pouring rain. They had no umbrellas or rain coats. Only each other.
The reporter stopped them as they passed by. When he briefly talked with the man he discovered they had lost everything: car, home, clothes, all their possessions . . . and yet, when the reporter asked the father how he felt about that, he replied, “Grateful. I’m just so grateful!”
The surprised reporter stammered, “Grateful? What for?”
“I’m grateful to God that we’re alive. We may have lost everything, but we still have each other and that’s all that matters!”
That man knew what really mattered. Faith, family and relationships. Crisis and loss drive home this truth like nothing else can. When everything is stripped away we realize what’s truly important.
We may be beaten down, but we’re not defeated. Perplexed, but we won’t give up. The Scripture says it so well,
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair. . .” (2 Corinthians 4:8).
What matters most?
For me it’s my relationship with God and people (specifically, my family) . . .
not possessions. Not anything else. Of course I like my house, etc. and would hate to lose it all in a flood, but God is my one true hope, especially for my troubled child. “On him we have set our hope . . .” (2 Corinthians 1:10b).
This Bible verse comforts me in hard times and develops gratitude:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters; I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers (at flood stage), they will not sweep over you . . . For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:1-5, NIV).
Dear God, help us hold on to what really matters–our faith in You. Help us trust that You’ll keep Your promise to be with us in every storm. You will take us through each one. We surrender our dreams for our child’s restoration. We leave them in Your hands. We want to be grateful like that dad.
Our hope is in You–for all things. Amen.
What can you be grateful for today?