CLERGY CORNER: An Act of God

Posted on 17 October 2018 by LeslieM

Our prayers go out to those who experienced the devastation of Hurricane Michael. In the aftermath, we pray for the restoration of the communities in the Panhandle. We continue to pray for our community as well through this season. When one part of our state is hurting, we all share the pain together.

I know that the phrase “act of God” is one used by insurance companies and will continue to be used regardless of my commentary. As a person who advocates God for a living, I do feel that I can weigh in on this phrase and its usage as well as challenge the people who use this phrase to broaden their perspective.

When a tornado devastates a town we call it an “act of God.” When a river floods acres of farmland, we call it an “act of God.” When an earthquake hits a poor nation killing tens of thousands of people, we call it an “act of God.” It seems that we avoid the word “God” in public lest we offend anybody, yet atheists, agnostics and believers alike use the phrase “act of God” when a tornado, flood, earthquake or a hurricane devastates their community.

Let us talk about times when you do not hear the phrase “act of God,” and you probably should. When my family rented kayaks and explored the mangroves on the gulf coast. I was so overwhelmed by God’s creation evident with the wildlife that I called it an “act of God.” When I went hiking with my Boy Scout troop through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and saw the majesty of snow top mountains in the heat of the summer, I couldn’t help but call it an “act of God.” When snorkeling in Key West with my church’s Youth Group near a natural reef with schools of colorful fish surrounding me I could not help but call it an “act of God.” We reserve the phrase “act of God” when we talk about the devastation of nature but what about nature’s splendor?

I know, in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, neighbors are going to pull together and help each other and form a lifelong bond. I call this an “act of God.” I know that families will mourn the loss of their home but come to a profound realization that they are blessed with their family who are safe and sound. When the gratitude of family eclipses the loss of material items, this is what I call an “act of God.” I know that people from all over the state and country will come from churches, synagogues and mosques lending a hand, praying and setting aside their divisions for the purpose of doing “acts of God.”

God created nature and nature seems to have a mind of its own. Hurricanes, tornados, floods and earthquakes have been our constant companions and when we experience “acts of nature” we respond with “acts of God.”

I grew up in a state where blizzards happen in the winter and tornados happen in the summer. I went to college in a community with a river that flooded almost every spring after the thaw of snow and ice. I did my pastoral internship literally on the San Andreas Fault and experienced an earthquake. And, for the last 20 plus years, I have lived in Florida and can recall several hurricanes.

I am pretty sure blizzards and tornados occurred in Minnesota long before my family settled there. I know that the Red River of the north flooded Fargo, North Dakota long before there was a place called Fargo. The San Andreas Fault went through the San Bernardino Mountains long before San Andreas and San Bernardino were even born. And you can bet Florida always had hurricanes even before we started naming them.

The only thing more constant than “acts of Nature” is God. Like “acts of Nature,” God has always been our constant companion. In the wake of natural disaster, it is my prayer that good things will happen. And when that does, then I will know what to call it. It is an “act of 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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