Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives . . . (Nehemiah 5:1, ESV)
We have all watched as the devastation in Houston, TX and the surrounding area has unfolded. There is great sadness. Many of us have prayed and donated. Others of you are on your way to help. And I know that many of my readers are from Texas and are likely caught up in the situation first hand.
This event comes as no surprise. There has been suffering in this world since the Fall into sin. There have always been disasters natural and unnatural. This is not the first disaster, and it will not be the last.
In times like this, we see the good in people and the bad. On the one hand, there are looters that prey upon the misfortune of others. But at the same time, there are the first responders and other Good Samaritans who put themselves in harm’s way to help others. There are those who create fundraising scams to line their own pockets. But at the same time, there are those who open their hearts and their wallets.
As we contemplate the response to help the people of Houston, consider the following.
Hold Your Criticism
There is anger against Joel Osteen for not opening the doors of his church. There is criticism against Houston officials for not evacuating the city. There is outrage against the Red Cross for not being effective with donations received. Professional sports teams are being disparaged because they are not donating as much as other professional sports teams. The list goes on.
It is easy to be a critic. It is easy to sit removed from the situation and evaluate how others directly affected should or should not respond. One thing I have learned is that the media does not often tell the whole story. I know that I have been interviewed by local news stations and what was broadcast did not give a complete or accurate picture. Don’t believe everything you read or hear. At least understand there is much you don’t know. You don’t even know what you don’t know.
The irony is that those most critical are often those who do the least to help. Those who don’t or can’t – critique! Don’t be the critic.
Instead of being a critic, do something. Houston needs our prayers more than our criticism. Pray for those who have been affected. Pray for those who are on the ground helping. Pray for those who are preparing for a response. Pray for open hearts to give and willing hands to serve. Pray for the long term recovery and those that will be serving in the years to come.
Give! There are plenty of pleas to help. It can be confusing where to give. The Texas District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (my denomination) is one place to turn. You can donate here: txlcms.org/how-can-i-help-hurricane-harvey Another place to turn is Lutheran Church Charities. One great thing about Lutheran Church Charities is that 100% of your donation goes to the need you donate towards. There are many other worthy places to donate. The important thing is not where you participate, but that you participate.
Finally, if you give, give cash. Here is an article from CBS News that talks about the disaster that ensues after a disaster when people donate items that are not needed. Cash donations enable those in need to buy exactly what they need when they need it.
- Pray for the people of Houston.
- Consider how you can help in your own unique way.
Father, we pray for the people of Houston this day. We pray that you would protect life and property. We ask that you would watch over first responders and others who help those in harm’s way. Move your people to offer compassion and mercy and to be effective in the help that they give. Comfort and console those who have experienced loss. May they find solace in your loving presence. Amen.