The wind howled and the water rose. The images were heartbreaking: elderly women sitting in easy chairs seemed common enough except they were surrounded by water, homes were broken open like so many eggs, roadways looked like rivers, and the faces of God's people were stricken with fear.
There are two sides to every storm, in a spiritual sense. Each brings us closer to God. The first one is more apparent because it is so visceral. The pain of the storm is mirrored in the pain of our lives. Each day in differing degrees, people and communities all around the world are frightened, hurt, destroyed. It may not be as widespread or public as this hurricane, but there is devastation all around us. Sometimes, the damage is within us or those we love. So we pray, and we join our suffering to Christ's passion. We throw ourselves at His feet, at His mercy, and beg for healing, comfort, sustenance, relief, or whatever it is that has left us.
The other side is more subtle. Within these terrible tragedies writ large, we are drawn to the resurrection stories. You see, we are searching for Him in the darkness. We see Him and know we are not alone, and we draw strength and courage from these experiences. Grace leads us to miraculous places far beyond what we think we are capable of during times like these. All things work together for good, Saint Paul tells us. So we press "like" on that post about the Cajun Navy, and we share the story and photo of the priest in his kayak, and we shed a tear to see within the rubble our Blessed Mother stands unscathed. In these images, we see the face of God. We hear our prayers answered, we know we are loved and not alone.
So look carefully into the storm and its aftermath -- whether the storm is Harvey or Charlottesville or your own struggle -- look for the face of God there. Don't miss it in the maelstrom. And having seen Him, then become His instrument in your own way. Perhaps begin in prayer, we all pray especially when we are in pain, but then act. Do something for someone else, for someone you don't know. Not for the selfie but for the service. Give what you can, do what you can. His hands are not just for likes and tweets and shares. His hands are for holding, and healing, and rebuilding. If we can enter into His passion when we are in pain, then let us enter into His Resurrection when we care for our neighbor. In this storm, see the face of God, be the hands of God. Instead of asking for His love and mercy, be His love and mercy. Now's your chance.