by Joanie Butman
Surveying the wake of destruction Hurricane Harvey created is yet another reminder of the tenuous nature of life. We’re all just one storm away from devastation, whether it’s a literal flood or the more common deluges that befall us – torrents of disappointment and loss; broken dreams, homes, families, relationships of all kinds. They are rarely of the epic proportions witnessed in Texas, though they often feel equally catastrophic to us.
The 2003 Livestrong slogan has been adopted after a number of tragedies, to symbolize the heart and tenacity of communities to rebound after tremendous loss. Lance Armstrong’s vision to unite, inspire and empower people experiencing similar suffering has become the rallying cry of many victims of a variety of tragedies. Versions of it have perpetuated his original message that there is strength in shared suffering. We ARE better together. This reality is true whether you’re in a cancer ward, a relief shelter, or any support group. Following the Boston bombing, the mayor explained the Boston Strong mentality: “No challenge, nothing, can tear down the heart of this city and its people." We saw the same tenacity in New Jersey after Sandy. This week many Harvey victims used the Texas Strong mantra in response to their own horrific circumstances.
While no one can argue the resilience of these communities, I believe the strength to overcome hardship comes from a person, not from a geographic location. God’s strength and compassion transcends all borders. And nowhere is it more obvious than amongst those experiencing pain and suffering of all kinds.
There’s a saying that “we’re all just a phone call away from our knees.” Undeniably, the vagaries of life as witnessed anew this week testify to the veracity of that statement. Texas may have gotten a brief warning as to what was coming, but most of life’s tragedies arrive unexpectedly, which is why I firmly believe it’s a wise choice to start and stay on your knees. I can tell you from experience, the farther off your knees you get, the harder the fall.
After just a normal summer storm this year, I arrived at the beach to discover that the warm blanket of sand I had been enjoying the prior day had been washed away exposing huge rocks. It reminded me of a hymn from my youth,
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Shortly after, I watched the same forces of nature play out on a much larger scale. Entire lives were washed away this week. The losses are immeasurable. It made me appreciate all the more the fact that the foundation on which I stand can never be taken from me. There are no meteorologists able to predict the timing or category of personal storms. Yet the reality of their arrival is guaranteed. Therefore, it would definitely be a wise choice to strengthen your spiritual foundation on a daily basis so that when the storm comes, you will be God Strong – able to withstand any adversity, hopefully inspiring and empowering others in the process as we watched so many do this week.