Pastor of St. Louis Family Church in Chesterfield County, MO
(the church was destroyed in the flood of 1993)
What can you say to people who are like Job? What can you say to that kind of pain? My hope is that people will read the stories of the suffering and act.
My brother went down to Mississippi on Sunday night with a team of people from our church. Yesterday [Aug. 31] he helped pull a tree off an 81-year-old lady's house and tarped it up before it rained again. We need someone to adopt this lady.
A guy in our church got his company to donate 15,000 bottles of water and a bunch of chainsaws and he headed down to New Orleans to help. A bunch of us are on our way there now and are trying to figure out ways to help house the refugees for as long as they need it.
There isn't any rhetoric, there's no pat answers. And in a lot of ways this isn't the time for theological debates or speculation; it is a time for action. The Bible promises that "He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Nothing anyone says is going to make a difference for the people who are suffering; it is only what I do. It is doers who are needed now: Honor God, help people.Billy Graham
Whenever any disaster like this strikes, we often ask ourselves why. Why did God let this happen? I have been asked that question hundreds of times, and I have to confess that I do not know the full answer. I can recall walking through the aftermath of hurricanes in Florida and South Carolina, and a typhoon in India that killed tens of thousands, and earthquakes in California and Guatemala, and every time I have asked `Why?' Job in the Bible asked the same question thousands of years ago, and his only answer was that God's ways are often beyond our understanding, and yet He is sovereign and He can still be trusted. The Bible says evil is a mystery. Someday we will understand, but not now.I do know this, however: God knows what we are going through, and He still loves us and cares about us. In the midst of suffering and tragedy we can turn to Him for the comfort and help we need. Times like this will make us react in one of two ways: Either we will become bitter and angry--or we will realize our need of God and turn to Him in faith and trust, even if we don't understand. The Bible says, `He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds' (Psalm 147:3). The Bible also promises, `When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. ...Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you' (Isaiah 43:2,4). May this tragedy make each of us realize our need of God, and may we turn to Christ in repentance and faith and find our hope in Him.
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Editor of Tikkun
There is one beautiful thing that sometimes happens during these kind of emergencies: the cynical realism that teaches us that people just care about themselves, a teaching that makes most of us feel scared to be "too generous" or "too idealistic" temporarily falls away, and people are allowed to be their most generous and loving selves. When the restraints are momentarily down, there is a huge outpouring of love, generosity and kindness on the part of many Americans. People do things like this that I saw yesterday: advertising on the internet's Craig's List that they are willing to take in to their own home for many months a family that has been displaced by the floods. This kind of selflessness is something that people actually yearn to let out, but under ordinary circumstances they'd fear to do so. So watch the goodness show itself.Not to deny that ugliness will also appear. ...It's hard to witness this perversity on the part of both looters and police without a deep sadness of heart about the depths of depravity that reveal themselves in these moments.For me, this is a prayerful moment, entering the period just before the Jewish High Holidays (starting Oct. 3), realizing that the Jewish tradition of taking ten days of reflection, repentance and atonement is so badly needed not just by Jews but by everyone on the planet. America, indeed the whole world, needs to STOP and reflect, repent and atone, and find a new path, and return to the deepest truths of love, kindness, generosity, non-violence and peace.