by The Rev. Mark Buetow
Hurricanes are full of water. That means that when they come barreling down on top of us, we are reminded of our Baptism! It was in Baptism, after all that the “Storm Surge” of the forgiveness of sins washed over us by water and the Word of God! And that means that we are the Lord’s. Even if a hurricane huffs and puffs and blows our house down!
Now don’t get me wrong. Hurricanes are serious. They cause damage. They destroy the things we have. We have every confidence as the children of God to call upon our Father in heaven to protect our lives and our stuff from being destroyed. And if the Lord permits our earthly stuff to be washed away? You’ve still got your Baptism! That’s right. In the end, not even a hurricane can wash away your Redeemed-in-Christ-Child-of-God status!
Why do these disasters come? Why do hurricanes blast our cities and make gas prices go up? Why do earthquakes and floods and tsunamis and wildfires come with such a vengeance? Jesus gives the answer in the Gospel according to St. Matthew (24:6-8). He says, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” What Jesus means is that until He comes again, our world will suffer these things, to remind us that this world will not last forever. That the most important thing is not this life but the life to come. That there will come a time when the Lord will wipe away and destroy all sin and make a new heaven and a new earth. In short, these disasters remind us that we cannot rely on ourselves. We cannot save ourselves. Our only hope is in Jesus and what He has done and accomplished for us.
But there is a greater promise of Jesus than this frightening guarantee of wars and natural disasters! In the same chapter, Jesus also says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14). Did you catch that? The Gospel will be preached. No matter what happens. No matter what floods or what burns or what shakes or what falls, the Good News that Jesus has taken away our sins and gives us eternal life will still be preached until the Last Day. While all of these things continue to happen, Jesus promises that none of them can harm us. They can’t destroy us. They can’t hurt us. Even if they were to kill us, we are with Christ. By our Baptism into Him, our Lord has made it so that nothing in this world can truly harm us. Not Gustav. Not Ike. Not the devil, hell, sin, or death!
So when the hurricanes come, when some disaster strikes, then what should you do? Well, do what you need to do. Help your friends and family stay safe and clean up. But most of all, make the sign of the cross and rejoice that you are in Jesus and that nothing can separate you from the love of God which is yours in Christ Jesus.
Please keep the areas affected by Ike in your prayers. We’re waiting on word from Pastor Borghardt in Conroe, who had Ike over to his house for breakfast! Please keep them and Landon and Lindsay Reed and all of the people in the wake and the path of Ike in your prayers.
“Fear not! I am with you, O be not dismayed, For I am your God and will still give you aid; I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand, Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.” (LSB 728:2)