Prayer is the best action one can take in a storm. I am waiting out Hurricane Harvey at home and prayer has helped at every stage. Our shelter (the “Harry Potter” closet under the stairs) has made a good poustinia as I catch up with some Bible reading, meditation, and prayer. This closet is also a good place for Star Trek Timelines, cards, and chat.
We began to prepare late last week. Thanks to the science monotheism produced, we knew Harvey was on the way. Of course, we prayed to be spared this test, but God said “no.”
Why? The world is complicated and interactions are based on many variables. If one thing changes, even as small an event as a Detroit Tiger striking out a batter, then everything can change. If God is to bring the best possible outcome while allowing us free will, then that outcome is complicated.
Hurricane Harvey came despite our prayers – and that is good.
It is good for us to ask, and God helps as He can. He is all powerful, but He is also good. He will not do a superficial good for us today at the cost of greater evil tomorrow.
Houstonians chose to build a city in a flood zone. Many of us chose risk while some had the evils of others imposed on them. The weather here has a global impact and is based in part on decisions humankind has made.
God does what He can to balance our immediate needs against the good of humankind long term. We asked that the storm would pass over us. God said, “No.” Hurricane Harvey came.
We do what reasonable people do and ask the Higher Power for mercy. We’ll use the power God already gave us to do the best we can. We pray, prepare, and do our duty calmly. We live cheerly and pray for good hearts.*
All the powers in Heaven and earth interact and each one of us is one such power. We can act spiritually and physically.
As Hurricane Harvey raged, many prayed for protection. Some were safe in the Divine order of things even before they prayed. It was still good from them to pray as they emptied themselves of care and submitted to the Divine.
Some will receive a miracle because power awaited the request in God’s good plan. For a few, the end has come. The best that could be was no longer good in the short term, though best for that person in the end. We come to the end we help create, but it is an end that we do not finally control.
If He who can does not, it must be better so.
So when my tension rises—we needed an ax and forgot to buy it— then I pray and give my soul to God. This calms me and helps me carry on. This is not just a meditation technique. I feel God’s presence, as I have learned to do over time. Just as I can misunderstand any person, I can and do misunderstand what God is saying, but still, He is there and is not silent.
God is with me in the storm. Our lives are in God’s hands. I have seen miracles and I have heard “no.” Both have proven to be good over even my fifty years. The tension is plain: I am no more important to God than any other person. God loves us all as His children (Christian or not!) and is doing all that can be done for all of us. He gave us power and will. We misuse these, but God allows this, even when we use them to rail and mock. God is patient and keeps working for our best.
I have peace in this storm. Government may fail me. Community may be sundered and cold waves wash over me, but God never fails. If the “worst” were to happen to me, then I say this: I am Joyful. Prayer has worked and now I am as happy as I can be because I see God’s face and am glad.
Thank God prayer works.
*See Shakespeare in Tempest.
Rachel Motte edited this essay.