Letter from the editor: God’s presence in times of calamity


A little over a week ago, our country remembered a tragic event. Sixteen years ago, a devastating act of terrorism hit New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., that shook the country.

Over the past two weeks, we have seen natural disasters come crashing in on the southeastern states with the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Hundreds of people lost their homes and even more lost the basic necessities in life, such as food and water. And many lost their lives.

In great tragedies like this, we often begin wondering where God is in the midst of so much suffering.

Like so many other people, my social media over the last two weeks has exploded with news on Hurricane Harvey and Irma, the destruction caused and the effects of the aftermath. Seeing so many photos of people’s homes completely destroyed and their entire lives changed has taught me to appreciate what I have in life. But even in the midst of suffering, several iconic photos emerged. Two photos I want to point out really show the hand of God at work, even in the midst of suffering.

The first was the image of the victims of Hurricane Harvey in a rescue shelter. The photo’s caption explains that it is the first time these people had seen the sunshine in several days. In the image, people are on their knees with hands out, reaching toward the sunlight streaming in from the doorway.

Not only does this powerful image show that there is always hope, but even more so it shows that even in a world that is torn apart by war, racism, communism and terrorism, there are moments like these, when even the hardest of people hit their knees in thanksgiving to God’s providence. There is no doubt in my mind that they were praising God in that moment.

Another impactful photo was one a policeman captured of the ocean before the hit of Hurricane Irma. In the image, there is a perfect rainbow arched above the water. I’m no scholar in biblical perspectives, but that does suggest the memory of the first rainbow that came after a flood. It’s a reminder of God’s total care over us.

He does not leave us in these tragedies. He is forever present. We find him in moments like these, in moments of true beautiful heroism, as hundreds of rescue workers, EMTs, firefighters, nurses and doctors worked for 24 hours straight to save others. They didn’t do it to be heroes; they did it because it is the right thing to do. It’s the same with the stories that emerge this time of year of the heroes of 9/11. They were acting from their God-given instinct to do what is right. God is present in those people, and He is present in the storm. All we have to do is look for Him.