During the flood, they called it Harvey, my immediate focus was helping our family. We started with a tornado shelter in the Harry Potter closet, shifted upstairs as the water began to rise, and then rejoiced when we made it. The house stayed dry, our college and school buildings are intact, and we get back to educating after Labor Day.
And now the real work begins for a Christian.
Every decent person loves their family and friends. We work to save kin, because they are kin. In the immediate crisis, this was all the power I had and so I did what I could. We “made it,” but not due to our particular righteousness. The moral calculus that God must make in a cosmos with so many variables is far, far too complex for me to guess. God exists and so what is, given our free will, natural laws, and history is what is better so.
Now the time has come to be God’s hand in mitigating the harm that comes to others, because of the ways of the world. We have free will and now we can turn our focus from family and immediate friends to hurting people. My job is to shift the story to the suffering and away from me.
Of course saying that is talking about what I should do.
So what should I do?
First, we must act. Our college program and school can put the needs of people over programs. We can listen and have the compassion we would wish to be given. That is a Jesus thing!
Who is hurting? I must begin with my neighbors, my actual physical neighbors, and my community: church, school, college. I start here, because those are the people we know best and can help most. If there is time left, money left, then we help anyone we meet, any need we confront that we can meet.
If a man asks me for my shirt just now, then I must give it.**
Second, this will be a difficult time for Houston for months and (for some) years and so I will have a great deal of time to think of others. Long after people are tired of “what we did during Harvey” stories, people will be suffering and they can be helped. I have time and so can be patient with my service. No need for false heroics or wearing myself out. There will be plenty to do over time.
Finally, I can talk to God about what He was doing and saying to me during the storm, but not judge what God was saying to anyone else. A storm has no moral status. It rains. We live on a planet where it must rain and where storms are necessary. We chose to build a city where we did, as we did. That was a moral choice and it had consequences: good and bad. There are so many choices that have been made that for me to know why is impossible. I lack data. In addition to the choices of free will agents, much that happens is result of the natural law that Nature’s God allows to operate with regularity.
Harvey is gone. My family is safe. Now the real moral work has begun. Tomorrow I must start to serve other people.
*I cannot tell you how most excellent our sister school The King’s College is. Send them love with their world class leader, Dr. Greg Thornbury.
**In a modern disaster, actual shirts are rarely the problem. Other things are needed.