Religious Reflections

Responding as quickly as humanly possible

by Pastor Larry Mays

In response to the Katrina disaster the tendency to blame and shame has risen again. Somehow it has to be someone's fault that help didn't arrive right on schedule (whatever that is). Of course it must be a U.S. government agency, and that agency is the Federal Emergency Management Agency, (FEMA). Right?! Wrong! NO? Well it's the President's fault then! Right?! Wrong!

We have just experienced the worst natural disaster in the history of our nation. First Hurricane Katrina comes blasting into the gulf coast affecting four states with winds, tornadoes and a 24 foot tidal wave. After the folks in New Orleans take a breath, thinking they weathered the storm, their dikes and levies break, flooding the city which is eight to 12 feet below sea level. Perhaps if anyone is to blame it is the humans who gradually built the city below sea level.

Having been trained and worked in disaster response there is a chain of command that must be followed so that aid can be administered in an organized way. The cities or counties appeal to the state. The state requests help from FEMA. Everyone first must assess the damage and where best to respond. In a disaster, most emergency response people that I know of, do their best to respond quickly. But because of circumstances, usually out of our control, our best does not always match the need; especially for those who might be in more isolated areas; which there are many. But one thing we need for sure, before everyone is rescued from their house tops, is a congressional investigation in how FEMA could have responded sooner than was humanly possible.

I congratulate and admire those who went to work doing what they could do to relieve suffering. They didn't stand around to inspect the rescuers, but became rescuers. I commend those who suffered loss who comforted others who suffered loss. I commend those who cheered the emergency personnel instead of complaining about the emergency personnel. I salute the Army Corps of Engineers for their quick response and timely solutions and I am glad that FEMA is there and will be there a long time.

Some probably are wondering where God is in all this. Maybe some think He is to blame. Maybe He has withheld His protection and allowed judgment to fall on a city known for its decadence and mockery of Him? If that is true, then perhaps those who are casting blame need to examine themselves? Perhaps they are to blame. I think its best at this time not to blame or shame. Some self soul searching might be more appropriate.

Christ tells us: Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2. Misguided blame and shame is usually inaccurate because it suggests wrong motives. We need to do what helps and not what hinders.

Is there light in this? Is there hope? Jesus looking down through history to the end of the age gave a prophecy that I think might apply to us in this situation:

There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory. "But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Luke 21:25-28

The just quoted scripture says that one of these days Jesus is coming to rescue us. I sure wish He would hurry up. He is late, according to my schedule. But when He gets here I won't blame or shame Him for not being on time. I won't call for a congressional investigation either. I'll just enjoy the ride home, shouting Yahoo Hallelujah all the way.

- Larry D. Mays is pastor of the

Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church.


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