Adapted from a sermon originally delivered by Rev. Bob Ball, Senior Pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church.
Katrina, with all of her fury, blasted through the homes and lives of thousands of people along with their communities and precious memories.
I cannot help but remember the time I visited New Orleans. It was actually in conjunction with a mission trip to assist with the recovery from another devastating hurricane called Andrew. We worked to rebuild the community of La Place located on the southwest corner of Lake Pontchartrain.
As I have been watching the news reports of the devastation left in the wake of Katrina, my memories of a once beautiful city called New Orleans, come flooding in upon my mind like the waters of Lake Pontchartrain now flooding its city. New Orleans, with its unique shops and restaurants along with a wonderful array of people, and the Mardi Gras and crazy activities that causes those who visit to forget the stresses and strains of life, will never be the same.
When I think about such devastation, I cannot help but feel the feelings of being forsaken that the refugees of this city and Gulf Coast must be feeling. Once again, we hear the cry, "Why? Why does the gracious God of Heaven and earth that we know through Jesus Christ allow such misery to befall this people?"
"Where are you, God, when we need you?"
We feel so alone; so abandoned. Like the Psalmist of Psalm 22, we cry out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" But then, in the midst of the misery, we hear the paddle of an approaching boat, or the sound of a helicopter flying overhead. We see a bus coming like a chariot, "comin' for to carry me home."
And like the wonderful black musician playing his Saxophone whom I heard in one of the street cafes of New Orleans , the words come floating from all around:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.
Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come
Tis’ Grace that brought me safe thus far, And Grace will lead me home.
We hear miraculous stories of survivors. We learn of babies born amidst the rubble: new life coming forth in the midst of devastation. Hope in the midst of what seems to be a hopeless situation. light shining in the midst of darkness. We learn how people have been plucked from rooftops and flooded homes: one man retrieved from a tree.
Yes, in times like these, there are plenty of reasons to look at the dark side and to believe that darkness won. But the truth is, that "the light shines in the darkness and the darkness will never overcome it." (John 1:5)
So the question is not, "Why does God allow such things to happen?" Because the answer is clear. Hurricanes happen because they are the results of the natural world. The real question is, "Where are you, God, when we need you?" And once again the answer is clear: "I will never to leave you or forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5) "I am with you always, even to the end." (Matthew 28:20)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rev. Bob Ball is the Senior Pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church in Toledo. Epworth is an exciting, growing, and dynamic church with a heart for missions and a passion to grow in its faith in Christ and service to the world. If you are looking for a church where people are friendly and welcoming, we invite you to try Epworth.
Epworth offers three Sunday morning services: at 8:30 a.m., our blended worship service brings together a traditional worship style and a contemporary flair. Our traditional worship service begins at 9:45 a.m., followed by the contemporary worship service at 11. We are located at the corner of Valleyview and Central Avenue in Toledo, across from Wildwood Metropark.
Epworth United Methodist Church
3077 Valleyview Drive
Toledo, OH 43615-2237
Telephone : 419-531-4236
FAX : 419-531-7487
Corner of Valleyview and Central Ave, across from Wildwood Metropark