Un­der­stand­ing Hur­ri­cane pray­ing

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Rev Devon Dick is pas­tor of the Boule­vard Baptist Church in St An­drew. He is au­thor of ‘The Cross and the Ma­chete’, and ‘Re­bel­lion to Riot’. Send feed­back to columns@ glean­erjm.com. Devon Dick

WHY DIDN’T the Ja­maican Chris­tians pray for hur­ri­cane Matthew to go and travel over the sea? This ques­tion was raised by Dr. Wil­liam Thomp­son in re­sponse to my boast about how some Ja­maican prayer war­riors caused the hur­ri­cane to move from hit­ting Ja­maica.

This dis­cus­sion took place dur­ing a break at the re­cently con­cluded Caribbean Baptist Fel­low­ship Ex­ec­u­tive meet­ing in Bar­ba­dos, at­tended by rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the re­gion. Thomp­son is a Ba­hamian who pas­tors a church in Nas­sau and is the pres­i­dent of the Caribbean Baptist Fel­low­ship. Thomp­son’s query could have been asked by oth­ers.

It is al­ways dif­fi­cult to know how to pray as the early dis­ci­ples recog­nised and there­fore asked Je­sus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11: 1). It is also hard to know what to pray and what is the best course of ac­tion, hence Je­sus him­self prayed ‘not my will, but thine, be done’ (Luke 22: 42). In fact, this point was force­fully made by a young pas­tor in St James who posted on so­cial me­dia that he was not sure how to pray in re­la­tion to hur­ri­cane Matthew be­cause he won­dered whether it might not be bet­ter for the hur­ri­cane to hit Ja­maica and kill off those mur­der­ers in St James and west­ern Ja­maica, thereby purg­ing the so­ci­ety of these wicked crim­i­nals.

Per­haps the Chris­tians in the Ba­hamas, Haiti, Cuba and East coast of the USA are won­der­ing why this hit from hur­ri­cane Matthew. Rev Omar Archer’s wife was shel­ter­ing in a home in the Ba­hamas which lost the roof.

She was seven months preg­nant and her hus­band was in Ja­maica. How did Omar pray while he was in Ja­maica and his wife in the Ba­hamas?

Per­haps his wife won­dered whether God for­got that she was re­sid­ing in that house. It is rem­i­nis­cent of Lovin­deer’s song Wild Gil­bert, in which a dread­locks was de­lighted that the 1988 hur­ri­cane de­stroyed the shop of Mr Chin, who had served him pork to eat. He thought it was his prayers and ex­claimed:

‘Se­lassie jah! King of kings, show dem seh a we run things

Blow weh dem house but mek dem sur­vive’ How­ever, ‘Likkle af­ter that Gil­bert turn back Liff off di roof off a natty dread shack

Him seh blouse and skirt jah must never know Seh I& I live right ya so’ Per­haps it is best to re­al­ize that God moves in a mys­te­ri­ous way His won­ders to per­form. Prayer is pri­mar­ily to dis­cern God’s will and to pray in ac­cor­dance with His per­fect will.

We need to un­der­stand also that in the wis­dom of God, hur­ri­canes serve many pur­poses. Hur­ri­canes help heat trans­porta­tion which is good for Earth’s at­mo­spheric cir­cu­la­tion and for Earth’s ther­mal equi­lib­rium, oth­er­wise the Equa­to­rial re­gion would be hot­ter and the poles much colder.

In ad­di­tion, they are rain-mak­ers, pro­vid­ing 25 per cent of avail­able rain­fall to cer­tain re­gions. Ad­di­tion­ally, is­lands get bar­ri­ers for their sur­vival with drop­ping of sed­i­ments via wind and waves. Fur­ther­more, by stir­ring the ocean, it moves nu­tri­ents from the sea floor to the sur­face, boost­ing ma­rine pro­duc­tiv­ity.

With­out hur­ri­canes life would be far worse. To a large ex­tent, the deaths sub­se­quent to the pas­sage of a hur­ri­cane have more to do with poverty, cor­rup­tion, in­ad­e­quate shel­ters and poor drainage on the roads. In any case, God can use a set­back for greater good.

Why no­body ever pray that Haiti be spared and let it come to Ja­maica since we can man­age more than our broth­ers and sis­ters in Haiti? Too often, our prayers are na­tion­al­is­tic, self­ish and parochial. Let our prayers be in line with God’s will when we pray about hur­ri­canes.

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