I find myself asking, “Why, God?”, a lot these days. Today it’s, “Why Irma, God?” It should barrel into South Florida as a Category 5 or 4. It will hit the Tampa Bay area late Saturday night into Sunday morning as maybe a Category 3 or 2 storm.
It’s by far the worst we’ve seen since moving here in 1989. Since we lose power sometimes when it rains, the only question is how long it will be out. Flooding isn’t a worry, but trees downed by storm winds are. Our house and pool cage could take direct hits. Then there’s all the beautiful vegetation Lois has planted and painstakingly nurtured. She put her heart into it. Not a life-loss, still a significant loss and a potentially huge mess to clean up.
It doesn’t help that I’m captive to a wheelchair. My condition makes me virtually useless, and I hate it. I guess it’s the old “man as protector” thing.
So, “Why Irma, God?”
To cite Paul, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains . . . “ (Romans 8:22). But the day is coming when “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Paul implies that creation itself is impacted by our sin against our Creator. And, though one day it will be set free, now it’s “groaning in labor pains.” I take Irma, and Harvey before her, to be some of those “labor pains.”
Scenes of Harvey’s devastation evoked my empathy. Warnings of Irma’s potential devastation evokes my fear. It’s fear of the unknown. I don’t know what to expect. Don’t know the damage-extent. Don’t know how long our power will be off and, how long we’ll be drinking warm water and eating out of cans and sweating without A/C.
Compared to flooded homes in Texas, it seems minor—but not insignificant. Somehow making those comparisons never makes me feel better.
So, God’s children in Christ suffer creation’s labor pains like everybody else. Irma isn’t jogging around Christians. Our long-range hope is the day when “creation itself will be set free . . . and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” But what’s our short-range hope?
Initially, before the Florida-track was inevitable, I asked the Lord to blow Irma out to sea. Now I pray for “protection”. That means no trees driven down onto our house or pool screen. Minimal damage to our yard. Limited time without power. Safety for all our family and friends.
It suddenly occurs to me I should be praying for faith to trust the Lord. For grace to act lovingly toward Lois in my stress. For grace to accept my wheelchair without getting angry at God. For grace to be an encouragement—and, yes, even a source of strength—to Lois. (I’m not implying she’s cringing in a corner!) For grace to look at the trees surrounding our house and trust that the Lord’s power to hold them up is greater than Irma’s to fell them.
Irma is a reminder that life in this fallen world can be, not only hard, but dangerous. Labor pains are intense (right, moms?). But mothers forget the pains at the joy of holding their little one. So Irma will leave (the sooner the better), and we’ll thank God for his care.
Irma is a reminder, too, of how dependent we are on our Father. Our sense of daily security is illusory. In the end our houses, our jobs, our money, our physical strength—none of it makes us secure. Only our Father. So, when Irma barrels in, we’re (as always) in his hands.
And his Son’s hands are nail-scarred to make us forever (and even threatened by Irma’s winds) his. That’s what I’m counting on.