As Hurricane Irene threatened the U.S. East Coast this weekend, I found myself praying that God would come in mercy, and not in wrath, to those residing in its path. I asked that lives would be spared.
And then I got to thinking: what if people were expecting great tragedy, and instead encountered great mercy. What if the death tolls, injury counts, and dollars of destruction were far, far less than anticipated. How would people react?
Watching the weather news today, I’ve heard this phrase used a number of times already: “we dodged a bullet.”
So what’s the follow-up response? Having dodged a bullet, are we thankful? Are we relieved? Or do we become arrogant, thinking that the storm wasn’t that big of a deal after all. “See, all that hype just blew things out of proportion. That little category 1 storm didn’t do very much.”
This storm has not been without impact. Lives have been lost. Homes have been damaged and destroyed. Life has certainly been disrupted for many millions of people, as transportation, electricity, and other amenities are not available as usual.
Having witnessed several hurricanes, I would say that God did indeed come in mercy this time. Irene could have had a much more severe impact on residents up and down the East Coast.
So how will we receive this mercy? I’m terribly afraid that it will breed apathy, or worse, arrogance. Something about our nature can lead us to believe that “dodging a bullet” and being immune to bullets are the same thing. The Superman within each of us starts coming out, and our words become arrogant and taunting. We fail to see that we didn’t dodge anything. To my knowledge, the North American continent didn’t move itself out of the storm’s path–and if it did, we certainly didn’t make it happen. No, we didn’t dodge. We were spared. The storm’s path and intensity were altered, and we were largely preserved.
So let’s make sure we don’t pull out the red capes and blue tights when the next life storm comes toward us, irreverently thinking that, because we got away unscathed this time, we can never be harmed in the future. Instead, let’s be thankful people. Thankful that God came in mercy against our nation, and not in wrath.
Charles Swindoll (in Grace Awakening, I believe) mentions that grace which cannot be abused isn’t grace. When God displays favor toward us, there’s always the possibility that we respond in arrogance and with a false sense of license (or entitlement).
Let’s be people that respond aright. God granted mercy. Let’s not respond in arrogance.