I will continue my series on teaching my kids the Bible soon. Given the current context, I am welcoming a guest post by Christian Roth, Redeemer member and Community Group Leader. I trust it will be encouraging to you...
I’ve always joked about Cedar Rapids, “There are no Cedars, and no rapids,” but with the Cedar River constantly crashing over the river banks, perhaps the water is more menacing than it might seem… I have lived in Cedar Rapids since I was a child, with one exception; during 2005 to 2009 when the city flooded for the first time. I came back from Chicago for a week to do one of the most disgusting things I have ever done: mucking the basement of a house that had been flooded with sewage and black mold. I remember from that weekend, as I remember now, how much energy and affinity was in the air with the volunteers and how much chatter was floating around the city about resilience, our local identity and where we would go from there.
So here we are 8 years later and the city is flooding again. As I observe the city, ask questions to people in my community and watch social media, I see two basic responses. One is to think about infrastructure, "I can't believe we didn't build a flood wall," or, "Is FEMA going to get here this time?" or, "All the city council members here are younger than 30, they won't know what they are doing!"
The other response is one of a flurry of activity. Millennials like me who are constantly looking for something to provide their days with meaning are now running as fast as we can to sandbag, help our neighbors and commiserate together as a community. And of course, we won't miss the opportunity to snap a photo, create a new hashtag or blog about it (irony intended).
So how should we think and feel about disasters like this? A few biblical suggestions to take with a grain of salt:
A stewardship of need – As those called into mission and love of neighbor, a crises moment in our community offers an opportunity to meet needs that we see around us. Sometimes we can over think it but at the end of the day when we see a need like this, we should meet a need like this. Our community stands at a point of teachability and realizing our own frailty and need. They stand watching what the Church will do and looking for answers. This is a rare opportunity to stand in the gap and serve and encourage our city with the hope of a sovereign, generous God who is not far removed from our pain and frailty, but felt the full force of it on the Cross.
A stewardship of attention – Cedar Rapids rarely gets national news coverage and more to the point, the City of Cedar Rapids is rarely looking to the Church for support and guidance. Though hashtags and blog posts may be ADHD and fleeting, they do get at something important, namely the opportunity to steward the attention certain trends and media bring. Today, there were national news teams in downtown Cedar Rapids. Additionally, there has been heightened local conversation about our downtown / emerging neighborhoods, community, politics, etc. This is an opportunity for the Church to step into the limelight and point to Christ as the source of motivation and joy in the midst of disaster.
Anchor in the storm – Lastly, when creation groans in futility like it has the past couple of days, it is an image and a reminder of our anchor that holds us fast: the Cross. It seems that everyone likes to think “religiously” in the midst of crises, but as a people of the cross we are also called to live the gospel. When trials come, the religious mind says, “Uh oh, we have upset the Forces that be, better put our prayer face on and keep our head low!” but the gospel mind says, “How can we draw closer to our good, powerful Father in this time of need?” The religious mind says, “How can I do good works to ensure that after this disaster will still get me the stuff I want from God?” The gospel mind says, “God is all that I need, so even if he takes comfort and control out of my hands, I can rest satisfied in Him.”
In disaster we see the shadow of Christ on the cross, bearing our pain, and Redeeming our pain. The more we see him, the more we will have joy and energy in Him, the true anchor of our souls to weather the storm.