What The Response To Harvey Says About Our Country
I don’t watch the news very often because much of it consists of politicians bickering like children. It seems like the only thing that’s consistent in our country is that it’s divided and in shambles. Violence and hate have owned the headlines.
Then Hurricane Harvey hit.
And all of our country turned its attention from political lines, white supremacy, racism, homosexuality, North Korea, healthcare, and the slew of controversial issues going on, to the flooding in Texas and now, Louisiana. Obviously, I don’t wish for destruction on any city but the stories and images of people helping is awe-inspiring. I don’t know why natural disasters happen; it’s heartbreaking the loss so many have experienced, but gosh, the kindness that spills out of people in times like this gives me chills. Watching videos of cars lined up with boats in tow to help flood victims brought tears to my eyes. The black police officer, waist high in water, carrying the 2 white children to rescue them out of their home has gone viral. In our country that has been so divided over politics and race and so many other issues, I’m reminded that we haven’t forgotten the most important thing. It gets shoved to the back of the closet while we trash people on the internet and social media, but it’s still there just waiting for us to remember it.
In all the turmoil and muck, we haven’t forgotten how to love our neighbor. This is great news! We have it in us to love others well! I think we often forget we don’t have to agree with someone to love them. I don’t think the people lined up on the interstate with boats attached to trailer hitches will be vetting people’s party affiliation before they rescue them. I don’t think people are helping others out of their flooded homes based on the color of their skin. I don't think people are asking others their sexual preference before offering them shelter. No one is donating money online to cover the losses of people who believe the same things they do. Frankly, guys, it’s because deep down, we know better. We know the Golden Rule: to treat others, as WE would want to be treated.
Like I said, I don’t know why natural disasters happen but the God I know always brings beauty from ashes. The people of Texas have lost so much and I certainly don’t want to diminish that, but I’ve also seen so many posts of people who have seen God’s hand even in the midst of devastation. What’s funny is God’s hand looks a lot like the hands of people. And why wouldn’t it? After all, we were created in His image.
If I know anything about the American people, it’s that once this is over, the people of Texas will start rebuilding their lives. And that is as it should be. But what if, instead of going back to the way we were, we continued to love our neighbors well? Not just the neighbors we agree with, but ALL our neighbors. What if we lived each day with the realization that many people are living with hurricanes INSIDE their lives? We are tormented and in crisis and we are waist deep in broken relationships and illness and addiction and unemployment and divorce and death and really, really hard things. It’s easy to love and help the people in Texas because we can see the destruction with our eyes. It’s much harder to love people who mask their crisis with a short temper and cutting words. I’m not great at it but the older I get, the more empathetic I’m trying to become. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Give people grace as much as it has been given to you. People don’t need us to save them; Jesus did that already. Maybe we should start looking at people with God’s eyes. Remembering He sent His son to save “those people” too. He doesn’t love you more than them. If He did, John 3:16 wouldn’t start off with “For God so loved the world…” If He only loved some of us, I think He probably would’ve had a list of His favorites somewhere. Is it easier to love your compliant agreeable children? Yes. Does it mean you don’t love your strong willed one as much? No. So moving forward, when Harvey is long gone, how are we going to be different as a country? Why not start with this:
Instead of trying to convince others that we’re right and they’re wrong, maybe we should work on convincing them that they’re loved. And be kind. Always be kind.
Want ways to help Hurricane Harvey victims? These are organizations I’ve seen people in Houston post about in order to help:
Text HARVEY to 90999 to donate to the American Red Cross