CLERGY CORNER: Finding our strength

Posted on 21 September 2017 by LeslieM

First and foremost, my prayers are with our whole community as we recover from Hurricane Irma. This ordeal has brought the community together and, together, we will get through this. I think that it is safe to say, it could have been worse and we should be grateful that the projections that we feared did not come to full fruition. That being said, there was a lot of loss. And while we pray prayers of gratitude, we also pray for those who lost a lot, including our neighbors who took the hit directly in the Florida Keys, the Everglades and the Naples area [and the Caribbean and elsewhere].

I also want to say to all of the first responders, emergency workers, those working to restore power, news reporters, or anyone else who worked around the clock to and through the storm, thank you. Hurricanes remind us of who the real heroes are and God used these brave men and women to keep us safe through the worst part of the storm. God bless you and the work you do.

I have served 21 of my 23 years of ministry in Florida and I have seen my share of hurricanes and tropical storms. I have to say, this one had me scared more than any. I can say that hurricanes have the tendency to put things in perspective. It takes a mortal threat to realize that some things we deem as important really are not that important and the things that are important, like life, family and friends, cannot be replaced. We know the difference between a problem and a nuisance. It is a problem to lose your home; it is a nuisance to lose your cable.

I wish I could say that my first hurricane put things in perspective for me and they have remained their ever since. But when the storm passes, the dust settles, the branches and debris are cleared away and the power comes back on, things go back to normal. After normal comes, comfort follows, as well as contentment. It doesn’t take long before one finds oneself taking things for granted.

The night I went to bed and the power was out, I prayed to God a prayer that I didn’t intend to sound like I was bargaining with God. In hindsight, I think I did. But it went something like this: “God, if you spare the life of my family and my home, I will be eternally grateful and never forget.” The hurricane passed, the power came back on, the shower was warm, the air conditioning was cool, water was cold, coffee was hot and all was looking good. The gratitude was abundant, just not eternal.

First came normal, then came comfort followed by contentment. And then the old habit of taking things for granted set in. One of my children cried out in anguish: “Where is the Wifi?” Really? You just survived a hurricane and you are complaining about Wifi? And then I turned on the television which I had set to record a football game playing on a network not preempted by hurricane coverage. No electricity, no cable, no DVR, no football. And then I cried out in anguish: “I cannot watch the football game.” Really, I just survived a hurricane and I was complaining about my DVR?

I wish I could say I sustained my gratitude for a good solid week, but I found myself in that place where I was prior to the hurricane within a couple hours of getting power back. Yes, I am a person of faith, but an imperfect person of imperfect faith. And the hurricane taught me that lesson as well.

Now, we face the potential of other storms. We simply do not know what our near future is going to be when it comes to weather. All the spaghetti models in the world won’t tell us exactly what the future has in store for us. At best, we can make an educated guess. But we do know where we can find our strength to get through to the other side of the coming storm. Our strength comes with our faith in God.

Pastor Gross is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, located at 959 SE 6 Ave., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-421-3146 or visit www.zion-lutheran.org.

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