Hurricane Harvey’s water remains pooled in places, as Hurricane Irma storms across Florida, and Hurricane Jose journeys in her wake. State and national government personnel are positioned to help, but God’s real “boots on the ground” for hurricane cleanup and recovery are people like us.
Already for weeks we have been seeing and hearing amazing stories of neighbors near and far helping those in need. And, such help will be needed for weeks, months, and years to come. To some extent we help by our state and national tax dollars’ funding relief agencies, but more help is needed, whether indirectly, through our donations to organizations such as the American Red Cross, or directly, through our contributing material goods to local drives or our volunteering our own time and effort working in the affected region.
To be sure, God could in an instant put everything right supernaturally, but He does not choose to act in that way. Rather, God chooses to work through means, namely through us as His instruments, through our sharing of the abundance of time, talent, and treasure with which He has blessed us.
We might say the whole cleanup and recovery process is “incarnational”, as was God’s process to save us. The Second Person of the Trinity took on human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary (John 1:14), in order to live the perfect life we fail to live and to die on the cross for our failure to live such lives. The Gospel of that salvation is preached and Sacramentally administered by men whom God through His Church calls and ordains, and so God leads us to be sorry for our sin, trust Him to forgive our sin, and want to do better than to keep on sinning.
As we are converted and receive God’s forgiveness in these ways, He Himself works to His glory through what otherwise appears to be only our service to Him in the persons of our neighbors, whether they are in our immediate or extended families, next door, or hundreds of miles away in the hurricane-stricken areas (Galatians 2:20).
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.