Hurricane Dorian demolished the Bahamas early last week and reached our area as a Cat 2 storm on Thursday night. We fared extremely well in NC compared to Hurricane Florence last year and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, with the exception of Ocracoke island on the Outer Banks. A lot of Christian acquaintances of mine here in NC think it is because they prayed hard for the storm to move out to sea. One person on Facebook posted these words: “I don’t believe the meteorologists got it WRONG…I believe our FAITH filled PRAYERS got it RIGHT! Don’t discount the miracle!!!” But I had seen a video of a woman praying for her household in the Bahamas as the storm was wreaking havoc, and let me tell you, she was praying:
I can’t help but think, what about the Bahamas and the people of faith who genuinely put their trust in God there? As she prayed I noticed that she cried out for God to be a refuge. Not to save her landscaping, or home, or things, but for those around her. I wonder if our attitude might sometimes seem somewhat proud to our fellow believers around the world. Sikki and I talked about it last night. She was actually mad about what some of her acquaintances were saying. I told her part of the problem is that most people — even most Christians — are not very global in their thinking. They live in tiny bubbles of existence. Many of the people of the rural area we live in may have traveled a little, but their consciousness is still embedded in what is familiar and peculiar to southeastern NC, and it is natural that they have trouble thinking “outside the box” of what they know and love.
I have never had a sense that any patch of ground on this earth was my home, perhaps because my family moved so often when I was little. Anyplace I am is only an extension of “this world” to me. I am a sojourner. I could sojourn here, or in upstate New York, or in Timbuktu, though I notice and am aware of the cultural differences of every locale. But this is not most folks’ experience or maybe more specifically their feeling.
It so happens that I am reading Job right now. The central question of Job is not how much faith he had or his opinion of things, which basically matched those of his friends and the entire perspective of the ancient world for that matter. One moral lesson of Homer’s Odyssey is that Poseidon punishes Odysseus for his lack of humility before the gods. The Babylonians and Persians had tales similar to Job, arriving at similar conclusions: that good people do not suffer, only someone who has offended the gods by acting immorally will suffer pain and catastrophe. But the story of Job is different because that is exactly what the adversary says to accuse Job: “God, Job is only righteous because You bless him. If you took his blessings away he would be different.” Really, this is still how people think.
It is not Job but God Himself who is on trial in the story. And God doesn’t answer to any of the charges. He just says, “There’s a lot you don’t know, Job. I have responsibilities and things in play in the world that would never even enter your mind. You can’t begin to imagine them because you are too small and finite. Too small even to have them explained to you in a way that you could comprehend at all.” In the end, Job places his hand over his mouth, which in the ancient world was a way of showing great respect (and of course, sweet silence.)
I wish that attitude of humility was a hallmark of believers in Christ.
Today marks the beginning of the 44th year of my pilgrimage.