by James A. Wilson
Much has been spoken and written – deservedly so – about the devastation of Hurricane Dorian. The Category 5 storm hit the Bahamas with lethal force, accounting for more than sixty deaths and counting, plus mega millions in property damage. It killed two more people on Ocracoke Island – offshore of North Carolina – and sowed more devastation when it hit Eastern Canada. Progressive politicians and activists managed to make political hay – shocker – by accusing Donald Trump and ICE of new outrages when they declined to admit a hundred Bahamians to the country without visas. But I have not seen or heard one word about how thankful Americans ought to be in the matter of Hurricane Dorian.
Seriously, Jim? Sure, you are the guy who is always carrying on about how a Eucharistic heart – a heart thankful by default that can only be grown by repetitious choosing to give thanks when it makes sense and when it is counter-intuitive to the max – but seriously?
Let me count the ways. Dorian was expected to devastate Florida with nearly the destruction it brought Grand Bahama; for all practical purposes Florida was untouched as the storm turned northeast and skirted the Florida shoreline. By the time it reached the Carolinas it was – against all predictions – down to Category 1 and barely swiped the mainland, if at all. It swept up the eastern seaboard without much more than a peep although it flared up again on reaching Canada. You’d better believe there’s thanks to be giving!
There are other things to be thankful for. Untold thousands of Christians prayed in the days and weeks leading up to the storm breaking; they prayed for mercy and provision and for God to get glory for Himself. I don’t know whether people in the Bahamas and Northeastern Canada prayed with such commitment – surely some did and perhaps many – but I am inclined to thank God for what He has actually done rather than winge about what He has yet to do. That certainly aligns with the urging in 1 Thessalonians 5 to choose joy however we feel, pray without ceasing, and give thanks for all things. That is how we are enabled to see how God keeps His promise in Romans 8 to work all things for good in those who love Him and are called accordingly – sooner or later and one way or another.
The promise and instruction are potentially all encompassing of humanity, although in practice the number heeding either or both is much smaller. It is too difficult for most of us – and I include myself all too often – to really surrender our will to anyone else, especially when that One says we need to persevere to the end if we want to see the good stuff unleashed. The good news is all that persistence comes about through one choice at a time to repent – re-focus – enough to say thanks when it seems a silly thing to choose in the face of relentless adversity.
Of course it is counter-intuitive. Yet when we begin with thanksgiving we find our attention is diverted away from present – and entirely real disaster – to what the Lord Himself is beginning to unfold in the ashes. When I was divorced in 2015 – and let no one think I am defending divorce, including my own – hell had no fury like what most of the Church turned on me without a hearing or a question. Frankly, I was so spiritually exhausted I would have been happy to finish my days in the peace of obscurity; I chose to give thanks even for pain and injustice while waiting to see what the Lord had in mind. What he had in mind – so far revealed – was a new love and family, re-location to Australia where I not only married but found a British publisher for the novel turned down by so many American houses. I was invited to revive the radio ministry I left behind in California, was led to Idaho when my wife received her green card, was enabled to buy a home against all odds, and find myself still discovering the new pathways of ministry I would never have found in a million years had disaster never struck.
It was no different when it took five years of record-breaking drought to bring a few thousand Christians in each west coast state to seek a culture of repentance – begging God to make in us a eucharistic heart is a big first step into it – that radically changed our lives. God broke the drought into the bargain after spreading one man’s vision from the Mexican border into Alaska and the Arctic Circle.
No, we are not capable of doing all things – certainly when the adversary is a hurricane or a drought. We are – however – capable of choosing thanks over depression, and so enabling God to perfect His strength in our demonstrated weakness.
In the spirit then of 2 Chronicles 7:14, thank you Lord…for Dorian.
James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books, or at firstname.lastname@example.org