This morning, as Hurricane Laura smashes northward through Louisiana, life has changed – perhaps permanently. This morning as people wake up in cities shattered by violence and rioting, life has changed – perhaps permanently. This morning as people say goodbye to loved ones who just took their last labored breaths, life has changed – permanently. For so many people, today will be one of the most difficult days of their lives.
For me and most everyone else in our community, however, today is a beautiful day. As I walked the dog at the break of dawn, the temperature was relatively cool, birds were chirping, there was a calmness about the island and barely a wisp of clouds in the sky. No one truly knows what the next moment will bring, but disaster, violence and illness seem to be far from most of us here – at least for today.
It is one of those constants in this life, that pain and suffering are being experienced by some while at the same time others are experiencing joy and beauty. Those experiencing joy today aren’t more worthy of receiving good things, just as those experiencing pain today aren’t getting their just desserts. In this fallen, material world that we live in, joy and pain coexist and it is likely that we will all have our experiences with both ends of the spectrum of life. So, with that being the case, how do we respond?
The most appropriate starting point for those of us who woke up this morning experiencing the beauty and joy of God’s creation is for us to be grateful for it and give thanks. We do God and ourselves a disservice when we take our lives for granted, but when we pause and reflect on the blessings that surround us, we have a much deeper appreciation for what we truly have. In the blink of an eye, this could all be torn from us, so we need to appreciate it while we can, and give praise to the One who created it for us.
Once filled with gratitude for what we have, we are better able to empathize with those who are dealing with devastation today. The people and things that they lost today are the same people and things that they were giving thanks for yesterday. As prompted by the Holy Spirit, we should find ways to draw alongside them and lift them up. In all things, we should be praying for them. Yet if there are tangible ways that we can help, we should do that as well. Send a donation to Samaritan’s Purse to help with disaster relief. Support organizations that are helping communities to rebuild, physically and spiritually, after suffering through riots. Do your part to follow safety protocols, and be available for those who have lost loved ones to illness.
The pain that others are experiencing today may well be the pain that we feel tomorrow. Therefore, rejoice in the beauty and blessings of today and drink deeply of them. And help others, for the person you lift up today may be the person reaching down to lift you up tomorrow.
Peace and blessings – Pastor Aaron