Nothing makes headlines like the weather. And this has been a headline already in this new year. Storms have ripped through this country and the world, causing floods, creating lakes in normally arid areas, igniting wild fires where protecting rain once fell predictably, birthing new deserts.
Most disturbing, of course, are the human tragedies: the pain, suffering and death that have resulted from these natural disasters. And there’s more to come! The staggering costs of these storms and those ahead are yet to be counted.
Famine and inflation can be expected in some areas, because of huge crop losses, but this is only part of the picture. Medical researchers say diseases, (old and new) incubated in hot zones by so much moisture and spread by an exploding insect and rodent population caused by stagnant pools, could spread epidemics around the world.
Then there are other threatening storms.
Washington is in a political and moral storm, trying to determine who did what when and if, indeed, anything has been done. The continuing arms buildup in the Middle East makes one wonder how long it will be until another military storm of terrorism carried out by hate groups armed with cheap nightmare weapons threatens to make the cold war years seem nostalgic.
Can anything good come out of these storms?
Is there a rainbow anywhere?
It’s happened before.
On September 23, 1857, Jeremiah Lanphear, a businessman turned missionary for the Dutch Reformed Church in Lower Manhattan, held the first of a series of public noon hour prayer meetings. Only six people showed up but greater things were ahead. That same week, a Canadian physician and his wife, Walter and Phoebe Palmer, began holding revival meetings in Hamilton, Ontario.
The storm broke the first week of October: an economic storm. A financial panic gripped North America that brought down businesses and sent frightened people into the churches and to their knees. Revival historian J. Edwin Orr wrote:
“From tiny springs of prayer in New York and preaching in Hamilton came a flood soon to envelop the world.
“Within six months, ten thousand businessmen were gathering daily for prayer in New York. Within two years one million converts were added to the American churches.”
Long ago, the Hebrew prophet, Hosea, saw the immorality of his people and gave them the following advice for recovering from the effects of the severe storms he saw gathering on the horizon.
“Come, and let us return to the Lord…he will heal us…he will bind us up (Hosea 6:1).” He still will.
Storms are never easy to endure.
But sometimes they bring us home.
Roger Campbell is an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years.He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org