How can natural disasters, such as floods, bring a nation closer together?
A Common Enemy
It seems that many people today live their lives within fenced communities where neighbors don’t have as close of a connection that they enjoyed just a few decades ago. There are fenced communities and fenced properties, and we are more separated than ever before, even if we live next door to someone, so just everywhere we look, people are living more in isolation. We might not even know our neighbor’s name down the street, but when disaster strikes, it seems that people who don’t even know each other’s name quickly band together to form a bond that would only come from tragedies like Hurricane Harvey or other natural catastrophes. When I was a young boy, our little community in the country was flooded, and the few people that had boats suddenly became rescuers. They used their own resources and equipment to help people escape the flood waters, and they were complete strangers in most cases, so there they were, strangers helping strangers, and people that they don’t even know, now are on a first name basis…and those relationships after the disaster last a lifetime. Before the disaster, people were being total strangers, but somehow, when disasters hit, people are drawn together like they were family. Just like that, we know our neighbors very well because when they suffer loss of life or property, our hearts are knit together by the great losses and bound for all time in most cases. We gather together to help those who we don’t even know and help people we’ve never even met before. What is it about natural disasters, like floods, that bring people who were basically strangers, into a relationship where they are willing to help, no matter the cost or effort?
One Nation, One People
When the U.S. was thrown into World War II by the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. was indifferent about entering the war. For a time, it was called “Roosevelt’s War,” so the nation was deeply divided over whether we should even enter into this world war, but everything changed on December 7th, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and thousands of U.S. servicemen died…that’s when the switch was flipped. Just like that, everyone in the nation was behind the U.S.’s declaration of war with Japan…and later would add a declaration of war against Germany, but not until this one tragic event happened did the nation really unite. That’s what tragedies do. They break down walls, our differences disappear, and suddenly, we’re all in this together.
When natural disaster strikes, people who were opposed to one another ideologically, politically, and socially, including people of different color, different incomes, and different in many other ways, now join together to work for a common goal, and that is to help those who have had their lives disrupted. There are no differences anymore because now it is human life that matters the most. When others suffer great loss, our problems shrink to insignificance and It’s as if everything else is not important anymore because our neighbors, fellow citizens, or people of the state need our help, so now we seek to join hands in reducing the human suffering, and we want help in any way that we can. When lives are threatened, all other things pale in comparison. When disaster hits, suddenly there is no red or blue, Democrat or Republican, black or white, or rich or poor…we are all one because tragedy draws us all together like nothing else can, save for the Spirit of God.
The Love of God
I’ve heard many Christians say that they love God, but the truth is, at one time they (and I) were enemies of God (Rom 5:10) and had the wrath of God abiding on us (John 3:36b), so if we say we love God, we must remember that God made the first move. The Apostle John wrote, “We love because he first loved us” (1st John 4:19). The point is, God loved us before we ever loved Him, so to say we love God, it must be understood that is, within the context of God loving us first and putting His Spirit in us so that we can love like God does, and this type of love it outward flowing, extending ever outward, toward others, and is never self-directed. Love doesn’t point inward but is directed toward others, so any love we have today is from God because God is love, and we must love others like God loved us, but we have to love them first, since God loved us first. If a person is a Christ-follower, they will begin to think less of themselves and more about others, so when natural disasters hit, believers are already in a frame of mind to reach out and help. They need no motivation because they already have a desire to visit the sick, the imprisoned, strangers, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and give drinks to the thirsty, because they see that doing these things for others (Matt 5:34-39) is the same as doing it for Christ (Matt 25:40).
As we close this, let me say that the mind of Christ would serve all humanity well, because as the Apostle Paul says we should “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil 2:3), and that means the believer should “look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:4), so let us look to “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:5-8). There is no greater example than Jesus’ giving His own life for others. Can we do anything less?