There is no denying the palpable and urgent MESS in our country this week. Hurricane Harvey leaves heart-wrenching devastation in it’s wake, and as a country we are moving toward that MESS in very real ways. I believe there is a lot we can learn from Harvey’s Helpers in our own Move Toward the Mess.
It was Mr. Rogers who said his mother always told him to “look for the helpers” when something scary happened. That’s the thing about natural disasters – they tend to bring helpers out in droves. Convoys of trucks towing boats to aid in the rescue of stranded strangers. The flurry of activity to prepare emergency shelters. Volunteers donating, receiving, sorting, and distributing supplies for evacuees.
But what happens when the crisis and clean up are complete? Will we go back to being complacent?
It shouldn’t take a Harvey to get us to help our neighbors. So, what is it about a hurricane that gets people moving toward the mess?
Harvey provides a common enemy, a real and present danger to defend against. An enemy that transcends race, borders, politics, religion, and economics. It’s easy to discern right from wrong after a hurricane. But guess what? We all face a common enemy who threatens to steal, kill, and destroy us every day. Satan. What if we recognized him as the cause of all distress in this world? Would we better arm ourselves to defend those held captive by his threats and temptations?
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world
and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
It only takes me one lap around the ground floor of our home to put a real price tag on what we could have lost had we been in Harvey’s path. Right now the media is bombarding us with compelling stories of loss and suffering. We easily imagine the pain these victims feel. I can’t turn on the news without crying. The empathy we feel compels us to compassionate action for those dealing with devastation. What if we spent a little time really getting to know the stories of our other hurting neighbors? Might that compel us to move toward more messes in our country?
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Without question, the people of the gulf coast are currently battling a life-threatening situation. And, sadly, it makes for good news. But not all extreme circumstances get the same kind of press. Did you know people all over the world are in the fight of their lives right now? Approximately 760 million people live in life-threatening poverty. It is estimated there are over 20 million human trafficking victims. In 2011 over 16,000 people were murdered in the US alone. And what could be more extreme than nearly 1.6 billion people who have never heard the gospel? What is the most extreme circumstance in your own community? Have you somehow turned a blind eye to other messes we face?
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Whether they know it or not, all these helpers straining to support the victims are following Christ’s example. But this is too often where I see well meaning Christians fall short. I once had a pastor tell me he wouldn’t support a servant event unless he had the opportunity to preach a full law and gospel sermon to those being served. Others claim Oswald Chambers’ quote about prayer being the work as an excuse to remain on their knees instead of being the hands and feet of Jesus. While Jesus most certainly came to save our souls and absolutely intercedes on our behalf, I don’t think these are necessarily the purest forms of following Christ’s example. He didn’t just come talking about His compassion for us. He came showing it. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, fed the hungry, and restored the dead to life. And, at that time, almost nobody recognized that was a metaphor for our spiritual salvation, but everyone noticed the physical rescue he provided. Meeting physical needs is tangible evidence of God’s love in action.
If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,”
but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?
What if we recognized the work of Satan in more messes and allowed our empathy to move us to action in the many extreme circumstances surrounding us, just as Christ demonstrated by His example?
I believe we’d start to see God’s will done here on earth.
If people around you looked for the helpers when things got scary, would they see you moving toward the mess?
More Move Toward the Mess Posts:
Prison Ministry with Carmen Horne
Racial Reconciliation with Kathie Harris
Pregnancy Resources Center with Martha Merritt
Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Thought Provoking Thursday, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Friday, Good Morning Monday, Soul Survival, Monday Musings, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Wednesday, Women With Intention Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday.