| I will take away the stony heart|
out of your flesh, and
I will give you a heart of flesh.
I do agree with the hysterical Chicken Littles in one respect, however. Yes, these storms are a warning, but not about global warming or climate change. They warn us that we need to change our hearts.
Just as Noah's building project was commissioned because of sin and Jonah's mission was a warning to repent and the Star of Bethlehem announced God's intervention in human history, and Jesus performed signs and wonders -- these attention-grabbing events are for our good. "Hey, people, pay attention. I'm God and you're not! Get with the program."
Actually, every single glory of nature should get our attention:
a sunrise, a sunset, a perfect blooming rose, a bluebird on the fence, a bear with her cubs eating apples in my side yards, buzzing honey bees on the white clover, the rhythm of the ocean like the earth's heartbeat, two bunnies chasing each other across a field, a buck sauntering through the pine trees, a waterfall or a brook cascading over rocks. Chesterton had it right when he said, “When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?” Or for our voices that can sing the Christmas carols and our ears that hear the silver bells and our eyes dazzled by the Christmas lights.But we are so blind and stupid, we often pay no attention to the Giver all good things. They are just part of the landscape we take for granted. Instead of awakening to the grandeur of God and praising and thanking Him, we accept them without thought or gratitude.
If God can't get our attention with the small whispering voice, He'll get it in bigger, louder ways. Why? Because He wants our salvation. He loves us. God didn't send the flood because he hated everybody but Noah and his family. He wanted their salvation. How many in their last moments cried out to God with hands reaching toward heaven calling for mercy? Remember the old adage, "There are no atheists in the foxhole." There probably weren't too many clinging to the rocks in the time of Noah either. And so many of them may have been saved in the end.
Suffering gets our attention in a way that nothing else does. It was suffering and expulsion from the Garden of Eden that probably saved Adam and Eve from the second (eternal) death. Rejoicing in times of trial is the hallmark of sanctity. You won't find many saints who didn't suffer and you won't find any non-suffering souls among the martyrs, no matter how brief.
Suffering, especially on the scale experienced by the people of Houston, offers a great opportunity to practice love for our neighbor. Look at the scores of volunteer boaters rescuing people and taking them to safety at the risk of their own lives. You won't find better examples of "no greater love" of which Jesus speaks than the stories of heroism coming out of Houston.
I'm committing myself today to thank God for everything and so I'll end with another Chesterton quote:
You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.Thank you, Lord, for this glorious day and for every joy and suffering in it. Help us to multiply our joys by sharing them and divide our sufferings and the sufferings of others by offering love and support.
May Jesus Christ be praised!