First there was Harvey. He drifted through the Gulf of Mexico without much punch, crossed the Yucatan Peninsula and quickly and unexpectedly became a deadly hurricane. Harvey’s destructive power came because his progress was stalled over the Houston area for days where he dumped over 50 inches of rain in some places. The resulting flooding and devastation were unprecedented. Many called Harvey, with good reason, a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Now, less than two weeks later, Irma has become the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic. Her winds have been as high as 185 miles per hour. The entire state of Florida is under an emergency alert. Irma also has the potential to be a once-in-a-lifetime event.
What are we to make of this back-to-back combination of catastrophic hurricanes? Is this just a statistical anomaly, something to write off to fate or chance? Is Mother Nature in a bad mood?
Or, perhaps is there another reason? Could these powerful storms be a “wake-up” call from the Lord of the winds and the waves? Consider these words from Job 37:
He loads the clouds with moisture;
he scatters his lightning through them.
At his direction they swirl around
over the face of the whole earth
to do whatever he commands them.
He brings the clouds to punish people,
or to water his earth and show his love.
The storm clouds of our planet are not random. Their power is but a small display of the great power of the Lord of heaven and earth. The Holy Spirit’s words here tell us that hurricanes move at the express command of God. We may not know the exact purpose of the movements. But we do know they are not random.
So, instead of considering these two powerful storms as a rare statistical blip, we would be wise to consider the reality that God never displays his power without reason. I believe these two great hurricanes are meant to cause us be in awe of the power of God and to remind us as individuals and as a nation that we are constantly in the presence of a holy God. This means these storms should drive us to humility, awe and repentance.
Harvey and Irma are not random, but are spectacular displays of the power of God. They are sent by God to remind each of us that he gives us life and breath and everything else so that we would reach out to him. May God make it so!