For some, it is a literal term. Waters come pouring in and they can’t stop them. They watch the damage to home and possessions. Some wonder where they will live and, oh my, how they will pay for it. It’s almost too much, as it seems the worst is over, and then the waters move from central city to the suburbs, with downstream flooding still in the future. It is just so much.
For most, it is emotionally overwhelming. Some remain afraid of what is to come when the rivers continue to rise. For those of us without damage, the pictures of those in trouble break our hearts. At first, we are frustrated, caught in our houses, unable to get out to help. And then, as we can get out, it is difficult to know how we can help others. We feel a sort of survivor’s guilt that we are ok and others are hurting so much. We have to do something, almost anything, to see if we can help brothers and sisters in need.
But we are overwhelmed, too, by the goodness we see in the people around us. We are proud of our city, and the way we help one another. The stories of church folks helping other church folks, as well as heading out into the storm to help strangers, are so gratifying. Tears of gratitude well up as I see people set out from their houses to wander around looking for strangers to help. Neighbors open their homes to both friends and strangers. Good Samaritans work for hours, days, with little rest, all to help others. It is the divine image within each of us that responds to help the helpless.
I have found myself this week in the Psalms, the prayer book of the Bible. Both the psalms of lament, cries for help, and the psalms of thanksgiving speak to me so powerfully now. Let this be our prayer…
O God, listen to my cry!
Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth,
I cry to you for help
when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
for you are my safe refuge,
I will sing praises to your name forever
as I fulfill my vows each day. Psalm 61:1-3, 8 NLT