Hope in St Johns Presbyterian ChurchI was recently helping some friends clean up after Hurricane Irma. It was heartbreaking to go back into the same homes that had been flooded by Hurricane Matthew just last year. We removed wet drywall and soggy insulation, carried out appliances that had been floating and collected personal items destroyed by the water. The same neighborhoods once again looked like war zones, and the exhaustion was easily read on my friend’s faces.

And yet at the same time, it was moving to me to see neighbors coming together. Church groups offering to cut down limbs and help carry heavy items. Strangers handing out water and food. Others stopping by to lend a hand. It just reminded me that even in the midst of devastation and suffering, we can find beauty, strength and goodness.

One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 46. In that Psalm, we read:

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;

though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.

God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Let us pray: We thank you, O God, that even in the midst of the storm, we can see your love at work. We pray today for all of those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. We especially lift up to you those who lost friends and loved ones; and for others who lost all that they own. Be near to all who are suffering and hurting today. We also pray for first responders and power company workers, for churches and other organizations who come to bring aide; and for all the women and men who risk their health and even their lives to save and care for others. May they know our gratitude and your grace. We ask all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.