Like so many of us, I have watched the hurricane coverage this week with disbelief.  The size of the storm is overwhelming.  The devastation is unimaginable.

Something about a storm that we can prepare for but not stop challenges us as such an advanced, capable culture.

As I watch the category 5 hurricane blast through countries I have never visited and cities of whose names I cannot spell, the sights and sounds are disturbing but not as devastating as I would like them to be.

I don’t live on the coast but I live in a coastal state.  I am used to the fear of hurricanes without personally being affected by them.  As this hurricane barrels through the Caribbean Islands as a category 5, the forecast reveals that by the time it makes landfall in South Carolina, even the edge of the storm might be felt as a category 1 in the mountains on the far side of the state from the coast.

That is a significant storm.

In reality, I’m not a very fearful person.  I can easily downplay things too much, but even I can realize that the storm will impact our state significantly.

I am watching people begin to prepare for a possible category 3 on the coast and a category 1 in the Upstate.  I am thinking about our schedule and what we might need to do, and yet I am truly annoyed with my thoughts and concerns.

I repent that I am more concerned with a category 1 hurricane over HERE than a category 5 hurricane over THERE.

I find myself watching my slightly dangerous forecast with more interest than the life-changing reality miles down the coastline, and I hate that.  I find myself more concerned when a storm hits Houston than when one hits Haiti.  The potential landfall in my country seems more significant than the actual landfall in another country.

The storm makes more headlines in the news and in my heart the closer it comes to me.

Years ago, my area was affected by a small earthquake, and it reminded me of how the earthquakes that you notice are the ones that you experience.  While it was a significant experience for me, it was nothing compared to what others have experienced.  These events challenge me to determine if I care for anyone other than myself.

Hurricanes often reveal that my heart is concerned about one person above all – myself.

As a Christian, I am called to be different.

  • I need to concern myself with the interests of others more than my own (Phil. 2:4).
  • To fulfill the law of Christ, I am called to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).
  • I should display devoted brotherly love to others (Rom. 12:10).
  • I am called to do good to all people – especially to those who are of the household of faith (Gal. 6:10).
  • If I shut my ear to the cry of the poor, God will shut his ear to my prayers (Prov. 21:13).
  • Pure and undefiled religion is to visit orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27) and hurricanes creates more in both of these categories.
  • The love of God doesn’t exist in me if I have the world’s goods and ignore the needs of others (1 John 3:17-18).
  • Any service offered to one in need is an offering to Jesus (Matt. 25:40).

If my family was stretched across every major section of this hurricane’s path, I would be concerned about every single member.  As a member of the Body of Christ and the family of God, I have brothers and sisters in harm’s way in every category of every storm.  My family truly is in the path of every natural disaster.  My perspective must shift to realize that people made in the image of God are in a stage of dangerous anticipation with every natural disaster that comes and rebuilding lives in the shadows of every major catastrophe.

Distance shouldn’t alter compassion, and proximity shouldn’t determine concern.

If I believe that, it should change me.  It should cause me to pray more.  I should find myself giving more.  I should be eager to find how I could help more.

I think it is completely appropriate to feel fear with the category 1 storms here as long as you feel burdened with the category 5 storms there.

Lord, change me.  Open my eyes.  Free me from my bubble.  Cause me to be an ever-present, globally compassionate follower of you.

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.