As a little boy growing up in the Bahamas, there are certain memories that I’ll always have. I remember long hot summer days and swimming in the ocean to as far as I could go. I also remember the hurricanes that would come each summer.
Hurricane season occurs during the summer months and when I was a child, hurricanes seemed no more than severe rainstorms. But it seems that as I’ve gotten older, hurricanes have become more and more powerful. As I’ve gotten older, it seems that the storms I face in life have grown in intensity.
Hurricane Dorian is blamed for at least 44 deaths so far, yet thousands are reported missing. On September 1, Hurricane Dorian didn’t just pass over my homeland, but it stayed and hovered over the northern Bahamas for nearly 48 hours.
According to the Red Cross, an estimated 13,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. One reporter, when describing the conditions, called it “pure hell.” Every house and building on certain islands had been destroyed and people lost everything. Some storms that we face destroy everything we have and take everything from us.
Joel 1:2-3, 10-12 reads: 2 Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your ancestors? 3 Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. 10 The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the olive oil fails. 11 Despair, you farmers, wail, you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed. 12 The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered;
the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree — all the trees of the field — are dried up.
Surely the people’s joy is withered away.
The prophet Joel is warning the people about a destruction that will soon come. Joel is warning the people about a storm that is coming that will destroy everything that they have. Many of us know what it’s like to lose everything as you face the storm.
We’ve had to bury loved ones, lost jobs, been evicted and had cars reposed as we faced storms. Like the citizens of the Bahamas, some of us know what is like when you’ve been so devastated that you are in survival mode.
The good news for us is in knowing that God doesn’t promise us that we won’t go through storms, but He promises that we won’t go through the storms alone. God promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us.
We serve a God that although we’ll go through some storms, we know that God will be with us in the end. He’ll be there after unemployment, evictions, repossessions, disease and all of life’s tragedies.
Some storms we can’t avoid but some storms we can eliminate. Despite what our president says, our activity has led to climate change, which is the direct cause of these record- breaking storms. Because of these activities, hurricanes and other storms are likely to become stronger.
As we trust in God, there are certain things that we can do to avoid these storms. We must elect politicians that will take bold actions to reduce emissions, prepare for climate change and build a strong, diverse, and green economy.
We can use less energy such as changing to energy-efficient light bulbs or purchase appliances that have the Energy Star label. We can change our diets and eat less meat because 51% of greenhouse gas emissions comes from farming animals for our consumption
Despite the storms that we will face, know that there is hope and reason for celebration. After telling the people about the storm that will come, Joel then tell tells them that if they turn back to God, He will “repay you for the years the locust have eaten.”
The reason that we can shout during the storm is because we know that all that may have been lost in the storm, God can restore. If we turn back to God He will restore what was lost in the storm.
The Rev. Marvin MacKenzie is the senior pastor of Walker Temple AME Church, 2525 Trinity St., in Los Angeles.