I prayed the following prayer in yesterday’s worship service.
As we sang in the hymn a few moments ago, “All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea.” Indeed, scripture teaches us that at least one reason—one reason—you have given us storms—even the hurricanes that have devastated the east coast of Texas and have now wrought destruction across the Caribbean, the Florida Keys, and, as I speak these words, Tampa—is to remind us of you and your awesome power. In fact, your Son Jesus tells us that when we witness events like this—and are either unaffected by them or escape them without harm—we ought to be reminded of the brevity of our lives and the vulnerability of our lives; we ought to remember our need to repent of our sins and be saved.[†] Because each of us one day could potentially face a disaster eternally, infinitely greater than any storm on this earth: when we face you on Judgment Day. And our only means of rescue is faith in your Son Jesus, who has made us righteous through his righteous life, his substitutionary death, and his resurrection: You promise we will be made ready for that Day because of your Son, for whom we give you thanks and praise this morning.
The weather, like all of your Creation, glorifies you, and most of the time the same predictable physical forces that create devastating hurricanes are the same physical forces that give us mild, sunny, warm days. You have given us a world that—the vast majority of the time—sustains our lives remarkably well. And often when it fails to do so, it’s because of our human choices and our own human sin.
But we recognize that there’s another way that these storms can glorify you: through your miraculous intervention to save lives of people in harm’s way. We pray for that now: Work a miracle to save people’s lives! And let these storms glorify you as you send compassionate servants—like the good people who work for UMCOR, our United Methodist relief organization—into the lives of the storms’ victims. Enable these servants to show your love, care, and comfort. Keep them safe as they do your kingdom work.
We pray this in the name of your Son Jesus, who has rescued us from our sins.
† Luke 13:1-15