Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricane Gustav

As you may have noticed, I haven't posted in more than a week. Hurricane Gustav has kept me pretty preoccupied for the last several days, as we at the station prepare for what appears to be another doozy of a storm.

The good news for Meridian is that it doesn't appear it's going to be nearly as bad for us this time as it was during Hurricane Katrina. We got hurricane force winds for several hours on that day three years ago, and it turned out to be the worst natural disaster in this city's history, even though we're a solid three hours from the coast of Mississippi. Our expectation tomorrow is that we'll probably get 5-8 hours worth of potentially tropical storm force winds, lots of rain, and maybe an isolated tornado. Though that won't be any fun, it won't be Katrina either.

The bad news is that this really looks like it's going to be bad news again for New Orleans. Meridian is a prime location for evacuees from New Orleans, straight up Interstate 59. We've met people over the last day or two from the Crescent City who say they are not going back, ever. Katrina, then Gustav, are enough to convince them that it's just not the place for them, despite the fact they've lived there their entire lives. It's really sad, and I'm very concerned about how bad Gustav is going to be for them.

I've alerted my Sunday School class to be looking for ways to help people over the next several days. There will be plenty of opportunities for us to show the love of Christ to evacuees and storm victims this week, and maybe even longer than that. After Katrina, we had storm victims sheltered here for weeks; I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case this time around, too.

One more thing I want to address, because I heard it after Katrina, and I'm pretty sure I'll hear it after Gustav: this idea that New Orleans deserves what it gets, that it's been some kind of center for sin and debauchery for years, and that these storms are God's punishment. First of all, if God was into giving people what they deserved, a hurricane would have wiped us all off of the map a long time ago. We all deserve nothing less than death, and I don't think New Orleans is any more or any less deserving of that than I am.

Second of all, such conjecture seems to go against what Jesus had to say in Luke 13, when he was asked what sin a group of Galileans had committed that caused them to be murdered by Pilate and have their blood mixed with the blood of sacrifices. A pretty gruesome way to go, no doubt. The people were tempted to think this was a judgment for specific sin. But listen to Jesus' answer to them:

And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:2,3, NASV)

Jesus told them, you all deserve to die. Just because these died in a gruesome way doesn't mean their sin was worse than yours. All this ought to do is remind you of how grave your sin is, and how desperate your need to repent is, and how if you haven't done that, you're headed the same way they are: to certain death.

So as this hurricane bears down, if God forbid, people die in New Orleans, or the Mississippi Coast, or anywhere, we should look at it only as opportunity to confess and repent of our sins and thank God for the forgiveness that comes through Jesus.

Okay, I'm going to try to get some sleep now. I've been at work since 3:00 this afternoon, have to go back at about 1:00 this morning, and won't get off until at least 6:00 tomorrow night. If you have the opportunity, please pray that I will have strength and wisdom as I anchor our coverage of this storm tomorrow.

By the way, here's a shameless plug. We'll be live streaming our coverage tommorrow at We'll have updates on the storm throughout the day.

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