Lessons From Harvey

The floods in southeast Texas have really been on my mind the last few days. I am actually from Texas. While I was raised by grandparents in Nacogdoches Texas, 90% of my family lives in the Houston area. I also trained to become an evangelist in Beaumont Texas.

In addition to my family, millions of people in southeast Texas have been hit hard by the effects of Hurricane Harvey. My aunt (who works in Harris County) finally was able to make it back home Monday. She was stuck at work for two full days! Since her car is almost under water, she decided to take a chance and walk home yesterday morning. Thankfully, a nice couple picked her up and drove her as far as they could. Once they reached a severely flooded area, she hopped out of the car and walked the rest of the way.

Several people in Houston, Beaumont, and Port Arthur are trapped in their homes. They have been waiting for days to be rescued. Due to constant rain and flooding, so many have lost their homes, cars, businesses, and some cases, even their lives!

Storms have a way of teaching us several lessons in life. Here are some I have been reminded of over the past few days.

  • Material possessions are temporary. They can be here today and gone tomorrow! This time last month, many people in southeast Texas were living comfortably in their homes. They had their cars to take them where they wanted to go. They had a nice bed to sleep in and a stove to cook their food on. Now, they don’t. They have been forced from their homes; their cars are under water; and they are currently sleeping in a shelter somewhere. The words of Jesus in Matthew 6:19 still hold true 2,000 years later! This is why we must always store up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20-21). Those treasures can never be destroyed.
  • There is only so much we can control. Storms have a way of reminding us of this. So often we think we have full control in our lives. That is faulty thinking! One thing we can never control is the weather. Sometimes in life, we are hit with catastrophes beyond our control. We can prepare for things the best we can, but the rest is in God’s hands.
  • There are still a lot of good people in the world. You wouldn’t know it if you had been watching the news prior to Harvey. Before Harvey, all we could hear on the news was people talking about racism and division. If you didn’t know any better, you might think that America was full of people who couldn’t stand one another! It took a storm, for people to stop talking about racism. Now the only thing that matters is human life. People of all races throughout southeast Texas are helping one another. Many are risking their lives and sacrificing their possessions to help others survive. That is the way people are supposed to be towards one another. We all need to love our neighbor and treat others like we want to be treated (Luke 10:30-37; Matthew 7:12).
  • Our problems must be put into perspective. So often, I act as though my problems are the worst in the world. If something small isn’t going my way, I complain and act as though it is the end of the world. This storm has reminded me of just how wrong I am. Now, I truly realize that my problems are minor compared to the problems of those in Texas at this time. I still have my home. I am not living in a shelter right now. I still have my car. My wife and children have soft beds to sleep in tonight. I am so blessed compared to so many suffering right now. In the big scheme of things, my problems are very small.
  • Prayer is important. Do you want to know what you can do right now for the people suffering from Hurricane Harvey? You can take a couple of minutes and pray for them right now. God always hears the prayers of His people and He is well able to help those in need (James 5:16b). The people in Texas being hurt by this storm need your prayers desperately.

Storms come and go in life. Soon this storm will be over, but God and His word will still remain (Hebrews 13:8; 1 Peter 1:23-25). When we always keep our minds focused on that, no matter what storms comes our way, we will be able to endure them and come out stronger than before.

– Shawn Jeffries

An Overlooked Disaster

In the midst of covering the Olympics and drama of the political season, there has been a very important story that the media has failed to give proper attention to. It is the story of the recent Louisiana floods. A couple of weeks ago much of southern Louisiana began to experience prolonged rainfall. This resulted in catastrophic floods. The Louisiana governor called the floods “historic and unprecedented.” He also declared a state of emergency.

This natural disaster is said to be the worst in the country since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Over 60,000 homes have been flooded. Hundreds of families have been displaced, with many being forced to stay in shelters. Since the start of school, nearly 265,000 children have been out of school (nearly 30% of the school-aged population in the state). At least 13 people have died. Also, since much of the area that flooded was not in “high flood risk areas,” the majority of homeowners affected did not have flood insurance.

This is indeed a terrible situation for the people of southern Louisiana. But the question is, how are we to properly respond to this tragedy?

  • Be thankful. If we are not careful, we can find ourselves complaining all the time in life. We can be complaining about our job. We can be complaining about not having the biggest house or nicest car. We can be complaining about all we feel we are lacking in life. Instead of complaining, we need to be thankful. We need to be thankful that today we don’t have to worry about gutting our houses and casting our belongings to the side of the road. We need to be thankful that we haven’t been forced to separate from our families and live in shelters. We need to be thankful that our homes, cars, beds, and other valuable belongings weren’t recently destroyed because of flooding. We need to be thankful that we don’t have to start over in life. Many of the people in Louisiana lost everything they possessed. But today we get to be with our families in the comfort of our homes. This is indeed something to be thankful to God for (Colossians 4:2; Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
  • Pray. When you talk to God today, don’t get so absorbed in asking God to focus on your own personal needs that you forget the people suffering in Louisiana. Pray that God will help them rebuild their lives and restore much of what they have lost. Pray that God give them daily bread (Luke 11:3). Pray that God will comfort them. Pray that through this time of suffering their hearts will be drawn closer to God. Pray that they will lean on and be fully dependent on God. Today, make prayers and supplications on behalf of those in need (Philippians 4:6).
  • Give. In fact, send a personal contribution if you can. Sending furniture and things like it will not do any good right now because these people have lost their homes. They have no place to store furniture at this time. What they do need is money for food and other immediate needs. Remember the words of Jesus in Acts 20:35.
  • Stay focused. Unfortunately, floods such as these are the result of living in a world contaminated by sin. Disasters such as these remind us that this world is imperfect and is full of troubles. But thank God, because Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead, that we can look forward to heaven (1 Peter 1:3-5! In heaven there will be no natural disasters, no floods, no death, no sorrow. Events such as this should lead us to developing the right perspective about life. They should lead us to desire heaven more than anything else because this world we live in now is full of troubles.

Disaster is something that can strike any of us anywhere and at any time. The danger of having to rebuild your life is always there. Let’s remember this as we seriously consider what we are able to do to help those suffering in Louisiana.

– Shawn Jeffries