November 8, 2012
Deadly Tornados in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Overflowing rivers flooding Ohio. Dust storms in Oklahoma. Earthquakes from Virginia to Maine and in California. Volcanic eruptions in Hawaii and Alaska. Blizzards in the Northeast. Heat waves and droughts in the Midwest. Natural disasters occur in every part of our country. Mother Earth can be very tough on us at times.
Reeling from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy, we have come to see how precarious our lives and our possessions truly are. Within the space of just hours, 2.7 million households in the State of New Jersey lost power, food became scarce, and long lines of impatient motorists waited hours for gas, bringing highways to a standstill. By November 2, 60% of the gas stations in New Jersey were closed. Nor was human life spared in our state.
Floodwaters trapped residents in the hard hit city of Hoboken. Along the shore, residents had to be rescued from the upper floors of their homes by boat. At least 23 people perished in the worst hurricane in New Jersey’s recorded history.
A full assessment of the damage to our homes, businesses, places of worship is yet to be made. The loss to businesses is expected to exceed $30 billion. Hurricane Sandy has forever changed the contours of our Jersey coast and has reshaped our future as a state.
The human spirit is resilient. We can face catastrophe, adapt, handle adversity and get on with life. When disaster strikes, resilience grows strong when we reach deep down into our souls and touch the wellsprings of faith in God whose wise providence can bring good even from evil. As the ancient psalmist once said, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging”
Faced with a hurricane that has diminished us all in one way or another, we have been forced to depend on one another, for rescue, for help, for even the very basic necessities of life: food, water, shelter and warmth. Without TV and with limited phone service, families actually began to spend more time with each other, just talking and sharing. Strangers now bound by a common experience not only commiserated with each other, but reached out to help one another.
Disasters may rob us of our possessions, while, at the same time, opening our eyes to the value of one another. As Charles Spurgeon, London’s famous 19
th century preacher observed, “Stars may be seen from the bottom of a deep well, when they cannot be discerned from the top of a mountain. So are many things learned in adversity which the prosperous man dreams not of.”
The people of New Jersey took great courage as our governor and our president rolled up their sleeves and worked for our safety and well-being. Sandy swept aside even strong political divisions. We may be humbled by nature’s brute force, but we can take pride in the common bonds that unite us as children of the one God.